Boycott marring Peace Team visit to Sydney


SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — A joint Israeli-Palestinian Australian Rules football team due to visit Sydney is embroiled in a row over a local government council’s boycott of Israel.

Marrickville Council, in inner Sydney, voted last December to support a Green Party-led ban on all commercial, academic, governmental, cultural and sporting exchanges with Israel. But the same council voted unanimously Tuesday night to allow the Peace Team — co-sponsored by the Peres Center for Peace and the Al-Quds Association for Democracy and Dialogue — to appear at a welcome function at the Marrickville Town Hall on Aug. 18.

Peter Wertheim, the chief exective of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, slammed the hypocrisy of the council.

“The Greens-dominated council has been totally wrong-footed by the motion,” Wertheim said. “The council’s boycott Israel resolution expressly forbids ‘any’ sporting exchanges with Israel, no matter who makes the request. The truth is that the Greens have been confronted with the sheer stupidity of their policy in practice and they are now in damage control.” 

Marrickville Mayor Fiona Byrne said the decision did not contravene the boycott since the team’s visit is sponsored by a local group and not the council.

The Peace Team, which is comprised of 13 Israelis and 13 Palestinians, will compete in the Australian Rules International Cup in Sydney and Melbourne, having made its debut at the tournament in 2008. A documentary film, “Tackling Peace,” was made about that trip.

The Marrickville Council voted in favor of a sister-city relationship with Bethlehem in 2007.

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