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Jordanians say no to ‘cultural normalization’, boycott sports event over hosting ‘israelis’

In a vast social media campaign, Jordanians have vehemently rejected efforts aimed at what they described as “cultural normalization” with Israelis, boycotting a sports event that hosted a number of Israeli settlers.

Several pro-Palestinian groups demanded the withdrawal of Jordanian and Arab participants from the Jordan Baja Rally over the participation of 13 Israeli settlers in the two-day sports event which kicked off on Thursday.

Jordanian activists on social media warned of their country’s attempts to normalize relations with Israelis.

In a collective act of solidarity with the Palestinian cause, Jordanians took to social media to ask “How on earth are we okay with welcoming [the Israelis] here?” and tell their government “enough with the selling of the blood of the martyrs of Jordan and Palestine.”

Pro-Palestinian groups denounced the event and called on the sponsors to withdraw from it.

They later announced and welcomed the withdrawal of a number of participants.

“After Roya TV and the Hamada chain of restaurants, Rababa Games, the sponsor and supporter of the Jordanian racer Saif Al-Abadi, announced the cancellation of its participation in the Baja Rally. All respect and appreciation,” Ataharak, a group aimed at supporting the resistance and countering normalization, tweeted in Arabic on Friday.

‘Victory for popular will’

Other pro-Palestinian groups also called for the boycott of the event and lauded those who withdrew.

The Jordanian branch of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement condemned the hosting of 13 Israeli participants in the rally, stressing the necessity of refusing to normalize and cooperate with the occupying regime in any form.

“We call on all sponsors of the race, from the sports committees, media institutions, hotels, and restaurants to reject normalization out of respect for the Palestinian cause and the stance of the Arab people,” BDS Jordan said.

It hailed the withdrawals as a “victory for the popular will” and a “clear message” to the rest of the sponsors, saying there will be economic consequences for continuing to sponsor normalization activities.

‘Respectful stance’

The Boycott for Palestine movement said the hashtag #اوقفوا_رالي_باها, which translates as “Stop the Baja Rally!” tops the trends lists on social media platforms in Jordan.

“The rising popular discontent [is shown] in refusing to host 13 players from the occupation entity in the sports event, while the withdrawals of national institutions from sponsoring this normalization event continue amid calls to keep the pressure,” Boycott for Palestine wrote in a tweet on Friday.

A user posted a photo of Hamada’s restaurant and said he was having dinner there because of its “respectful stance” and “rejection of normalization.”

“Today’s dinner from Hamada’s restaurant because of its respectful stance and rejection of normalization, in the hope that the boycott movement against Zionists and Zionist goods will develop to form support funds for the boycott, to compensate every employer, athlete, or artist who incurs a financial loss because of his stance on normalization,” he said.

Hamas appreciates Jordanian support

Palestinian resistance movement Hamas reacted to the developments and thanked the Jordanian people and groups’ support and their anti-normalization stance.

“These positions of the Jordanian people, media, and business circles are in line with the faith and belief of the people of this country, who believe in the need to support the Palestinian people and al-Quds and al-Aqsa Mosque,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said.

Maher Salah, a senior Hamas official, said the Jordanians’ anti-normalization activities in recent days showed the deep-rooted authenticity of “our brotherly Jordanian people.”

Salah pointed out that the Zionist regime’s efforts over many years to brainwash the rising Jordanian generations have been ignored by the Jordanian people, who, he said, emerged victorious despite the extent of temptations and pressures that they were subject to.

He further said Hamas salutes such supportive stances, adding that it confirmed that the brotherly Jordanian people are still faithful toward the Palestinian cause.

Boycotting Israel gaining momentum

The new development comes following a string of withdrawals by Muslim sportsmen from competing with Israeli counterparts in various sports events.

In July 2021, Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine withdrew from the 2020 Summer Olympics in the Japanese capital city of Tokyo, after the draw set him on course for a possible showdown against an Israeli opponent.

During the same month, Sudanese judoka Mohamed Abdalrasool withdrew from the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, becoming the second athlete to pull out of the international multi-sport event to avoid facing an Israeli opponent.

Lebanon’s Abdullah Miniato also withdrew from the international mixed martial arts (MMA) competition in Sophia, Bulgaria to avoid a match against an Israeli opponent, following the lead of the two African athletes who refused to fight their Israeli rivals at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

Also, a Kuwaiti tennis player withdrew from a tournament in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last month to avoid facing an Israeli counterpart.

The boycotting of Israel has gained momentum in recent years despite the regime’s incessant attempts to silence any form of opposition to its crimes as anti-Semitism.  

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