Competing in the World Masters Judo Tournament held this weekend in Rabat, Morocco, Israel’s Judo team was reportedly greeted by audience members with chants of “We will murder you” and “You’re not wanted here, go home.”
That was the icing on the anti-Semitic cake for the traveling Israeli Judo competitors. Upon arrival in Morocco, the Israeli team reportedly had their passports confiscated and were held in a small room without food, water or even chairs for nearly nine hours.
In addition, the Israeli flag was absent from the venue where the event took place, while the flags of all other participating countries were represented. And the Israeli flag was a no-show on the tournament’s official website, which also lacked any mention of Israel’s participation in the official Judo event.
The Israeli team’s inhumane detention at the airport was at first justified by the Moroccan authorities by citing what they claimed was the delegation’s alleged lack of visas. However, Israel’s Ynetnews website reported the Moroccans changed their story, saying a gun had been found in the luggage of one of the contestants.
The team, which spent much of their time lying uncomfortably on the floor, was only released from the holding room after Israel Judo Association chairman Moshe Ponti asked Marius Vizer, the president of the International Judo Federation’s executive committee, to intervene.
According to reports, Vizer threatened to cancel the entire competition unless the Israeli team was released. That dictate apparently worked. The airport authorities released the team and provided guards from the Moroccan king’s security unit.
Notably absent from the sports venue where the event took place was the Israeli flag. A Judo Federation board member reportedly asked that all flags be removed from the facility.
Spectators reportedly booed each Israeli athlete, and held Palestinian flags while hurling insults at the athletes.
Yarden Gerbi, an Israeli Judo participant, wrote on her Facebook page that “what happened in Morocco is a shame.”
“As an Israeli I feel ashamed to wait 8 hours at the airport, I feel ashamed to hear the crowed [sic] boo me and my teammates and want us to lose — and why? Because we are Israelis.”
Gerbi stressed that “We came for sports, pure sport, not politics. It’s an embarrassment for Morocco and the organization.”
Read more here.