(JTA) — Protests against Israel’s operation in Gaza have come to the sports arena.
Anti-Israel protesters in New Zealand tried to force the withdrawal of Israel’s top tennis player from a tournament.
A fringe organization called Peace and Justice Auckland issued a letter to Shahar Pe’er demanding her withdrawal on the eve of the tournament. On Thursday, about 20 protesters waved anti-Israel placards outside the entrance to the ASC Classic in Auckland before Pe’er was due to play Russia’s Elena Dementieva.
Pe’er, 22, who received beefed-up security during the tournament, lost the quarterfinal to the top seed in straight sets.
On Wednesday, she rejected the demands of the protesters.
“I have nothing to do with this," she said. "I’m Shahar Pe’er. I came here to play tennis. I know I’m from Israel and I’m proud of my country.”
The protest against Pe’er came two days after an Israeli basketball team was targeted by protesters in Turkey, forcing the players to leave the court before the opening tip of a European Cup match.
Some Turkish fans of the Turk Telekom team threw bottles at the Israeli Bnei Hasharon players. Others stormed the court shouting "Allah Akbar" and "death to the Jews," according to reports.
The team retreated to the locker room and remained holed up for two hours before leaving under heavy police escort. The game was canceled.