Vancouver 2010: The IOC, Israel, Canada, and Apartheid

by Kim Petersen / February 19th, 2010

The Winter Olympics is taking place in the unceded territory of the Skwxwú7mesh, Xwméthkwyiem and Tsleil-Waututh peoples – what has been colonially designated Vancouver – and the unceded territory of the St”at”imc people – Whistler.

Israel has sent an ice dancing pair to the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Of Vancouver, the Israeli Consul-General, Amir Gissin, gushed, “We find a Zionist, warm, loving community for whom Israel is a second home.”1

Vancouver a Zionist community? Zionism warm? Undoubtedly Zionism is molten warm when you happen to be a Palestinian who has had white phosphorus dropped on him by the warm Zionists of the Israeli military.

Implicit in the straightforward declaration of Zionism is racism and separation. The ineluctable corrupting force of Zionism leads to apartheid.

Zionist communities in Canada? Why not? Canada is an apartheid country just as Israel is. The First Nations have been pushed onto small reserves. Canada is based on the dispossession of the Indigenous population as is Israel. The European-cum Canadians colonialists displaced the spirituality and culture of the Indigenous peoples as did the European Jews-cum Israelis to the indigenous Palestinians. The Original Peoples in Canada are impoverished as are the Palestinians under Israeli oppression. The racist residue of apartheid politics and practices are clear in both Canada and Israel.

The supremacist attitudes held by many Canadians to the Original Peoples were verbalized by Canadian Richard Pound, board member of the Vancouver Olympics and former vice-president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Pound said, “We must not forget that 400 years ago, Canada was a land of savages, with scarcely 10,000 inhabitants of European descent…”2

Olympics and Apartheid

In 1964 the IOC banned South Africa from the Olympics for not renouncing apartheid. Apartheid state Rhodesia would also be banned from the Olympics in 1972. South Africa”s ban lasted until 1992. Yet somehow Israel has escaped IOC condemnation for its apartheid… as has Canada.

Danielle Gavon, an organizer with the Vancouver Jewish Community Centre, said that the Israeli athletes “feel that they represent Israel and the Jews to the outside world. It”s important to them that Israel and the Jews outside Israel support them.”1

Apartheid is clear from the comments. They emphasize that Israel is a Jewish state, oblivious to the fact that approximately a fifth of the population is Palestinian.

South Africans who lived under apartheid are unmistaken about Israeli apartheid. Archbishop Desmond Tutu stated, “I”ve been very distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us blacks in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about….”3 South African Trade Unions were certain about the apartheid in Israel, and they had a solution: sanctions and boycotts.4

Former US president Jimmy Carter spoke of witnessing an apartheid “even worse” than in South Africa.5

Many Jews recognize the prima facie apartheid.6

Even Israeli arch-Zionist Ehud Barak is speaking to the apartheid.7

So why isn”t Israel banned as an apartheid state by the IOC? Why is a de facto apartheid nation such as Canada “honored” as a host nation for the Olympics?

The Olympic sport of tennis offers a conjecture. One Israeli tennis player, Shahar Peer, has been plagued by anti-apartheid, anti-occupation protests at various tennis venues around the world. The Women”s Tennis Association and its former chief officer Larry Scott fought on behalf of Peer who was barred from competition last year in the UAE.8 This year Peer is playing in Dubai. reported, “It was also a triumph for the publicity machines of both Dubai and Doha, which have labored for years to show off the world”s top Western athletes… The UAE, as well as Qatar, had invested too much” in tennis and sport. In other words, money wins.9

1. Quoted in Hilary Leila Krieger, “Vancouver Jews give Israeli team standing ovation,” Jerusalem Post, 16 February 2010.
2. News Staff, “Pound Urged to Resign Over “Savages” Comment,” CTV, 22 October 2008.
3. Desmond Tutu, “How can the victims of oppression oppress another people?,” Church Times, 26 April 2002.
4. Zwelinzima Vavi, “COSATU leader Zwelinzima Vavi: Sanction and boycott apartheid Israel!,” LabourNet UK, 14 January 2009.
5. Excerpt cited by Haaretz Service, “Jimmy Carter: Israel”s “apartheid” policies worse than South Africa”s,” Haaretz, 11 December 2006.
6. Diverse voices oppose apartheid policies, Zionism, “An Open Letter from Jewish Youth in Canada,” The Dominion, 5 January 2009.
7. Rory McCarthy, “Barak: make peace with Palestinians or face apartheid,” Guardian, 3 February 2010.
8. See Kim Petersen, “When Sports Trump Human Rights: The Fundamental Principles of Tennis,” Dissident Voice, 17 February 2009.
9. Steve Tignor, “Cinderella Goes to Dubai,”, 17 February 2010.

Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: kim[at]

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