Israel Bows out of Event After Indonesia Sets Conditions

Israel has withdrawn from an international archery competition in Indonesia because of blatantly discriminatory conditions.

The Indonesian government had presented Israel with a list of conditions – - such as not flying the Israeli flag — at the athletic meet to take place in Jakarta in August.

“This is an instance of blatant racism and anti-Semitism,” said Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress.

“There is a hidden political agenda related to Muslim fundamentalist politics,” he added.

Indonesia, which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, is the largest Muslim nation in the world.

The Israeli Archery Association was informed by the International Archery Federation (FITA) that it could participate only if it adheres to conditions that included identifying the team as “Group A” rather than “Israel”; using the FITA anthem and flag rather than the ones for Israel; and not marching in the opening or closing ceremonies.

In Jerusalem, Yigal Palmor of the Foreign Ministry said Israel could not accept a national team competing in such an event without flags or anthems.

The Sports Federation of Israel had protested that the conditions set by Indonesia violate the FITA constitution, which states, “No discrimination in the practice or the administration of archery shall be allowed against any country association or person on grounds of race, religion or politics.”

The president of FITA, James Easton, was in Jakarta this week to implore government officials to reconsider their stance, but to no avail, Steinberg said.

Steinberg said he plans to report the incident to the U.N. human rights commissioner in Geneva, who is responsible for investigating incidents of anti- Semitism.

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote a letter to Gen. Suharto, president of Indonesia.

In the letter, Foxman wrote, “It is inexplicable that in these days of growing reconciliation between Israel and her Muslim neighbors, Israel is once again being treated as a pariah.”

Steinberg said even Portugal, which is practically in a state of war with Indonesia over East Timor, would be participating in the competition on a “full and nondiscriminatory basis.”

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