Safi takes legal action to determine who influenced Saru to disinvite team from Israel

Tel Aviv Heat, the multiracial, multiethnic, and multi-religious team from Israel, which Safi spokesperson Pamela Ngubane says the BDS movement does not want South Africans to see because their presence would expose the lie that Israel is an apartheid state

Death threats from BDS movement may be factor in SARU’s decision, says Safi spokesperson

South African Friends of Israel (Safi) submitted an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) this morning, to reveal which stakeholders were consulted by the South African Rugby Union (Saru) in their decision-making process regarding the participation of an Israeli rugby team in the Mzanzi Challenge next month.

This procedure follows Saru’s failure to disclose their meeting minutes with Safi, after a formal request was submitted to their legal team last week, says Safi in a media release.

Arsen Ostrovsky, a human rights attorney and CEO of the International Legal Forum, has joined this fight, demanding that Saru reverse its decision to disinvite the internationally qualifying rugby team, following pressure from supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Ostrovsky shared the following statement in a letter sent via email on Wednesday to Saru president Mark Alexander, as reported by The Algemeiner: “We call on SA Rugby to live up to its own values and immediately reverse its decision, re-invite Tel Aviv Heat to the competition and make an unequivocal statement condemning the intimidatory, bullying and discriminatory tactics of the BDS movement and those who led the campaign to rescind the invitation to Tel Aviv Heat”.

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New Zealand High Court barrister and solicitor Ian Dunwoodie has also filed a formal complaint with World Rugby, for Saru’s alleged breach of their constitution.

Tel Aviv Heat was scheduled to participate in a competition with four other international teams and six South African provinces from next month. However, the team was advised on Friday February 2, that their invitation had been withdrawn following “consultation with several stakeholders”.

Local stakeholders including players, their families, South African Friends of Israel, the South African Zionist Federation, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the Tel Aviv Heat team themselves are just some of the roleplayers that were never consulted in this process. Over the last week, statements slamming SARU’s decision were made public by the ACDP, the FF+ and rugby legend Joel Stransky.

Safi’s PAIA application hopes to ascertain which voices were afforded an undue influence in our country’s sporting fixtures and affairs. Following the ANC’s press statement commending SARU’s decision, SAFI remains concerned that political interference, and alleged death threats from the antisemitic BDS movement, may have contributed to the decision-making process, says Safi spokesperson Pamela Ngubane.

The South African public, which has condemned the decision at large, deserves an answer for this tragic decision. Discrimination, on any basis, must not be tolerated in South African sporting fixtures and events.

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