Israel

Iroquois Team Defies Boycott, Arrives in Israel to Compete in Lacrosse Championship

The Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team has touched down in Israel for the men’s World Lacrosse Championships, defying pressure from the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign and making a conscious decision to attend the tournament in the Jewish State.

The Jerusalem Post reported Thursday that the Iroquois team, composed of players from the indigenous Haudenosaunee Confederacy, who travel on their own indigenous passports, had arrived at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

Because their passports are not internationally recognized, the team was forced to forfeit their matches at the 2010 World Lacrosse Championships, after the United Kingdom refused them entry. Israel, however, chose to accept their passports, after last-minute high-level discussions between Israel and Canada.

“We had a stalemate because Canada said they’d love to send them, and Israel would love them to come, but Israel doesn’t allow people to travel into the country without official passports or documentation,” former Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman, who helped resolve the matter, said. “There are security issues, and Israel can’t have an open-door policy… [but] everyone wanted to make it work.”

Lipman reached out to Irwin Cotler, a former Canadian justice minister, who spoke with officials within the Canadian Foreign Ministry, and eventually guaranteed free passage.

“Along the way, BDS tried everything to stop them from coming,” said Lipman. “The fact that they are here is a tremendous victory against BDS – we give the Iroquois tribe so much credit for fighting the pressure. I’m thrilled that so many people were able to come together and make this happen. We have 46 teams here who have come to see the truth – this championship showcases Israel at its best.”

In a letter to the Iroquois Nationals, BDS officials charged that the Wingate Institute in Netanya – where the competition is taking place – was “built on the [Palestinian] lands of Khirbat al-Zababida, [which was] ethnically cleansed of its Palestinian inhabitants in 1948 as part of the attacks focused on clearing indigenous villages along the coast north of Tel Aviv.”

Lipman rejected the charges and congratulated the many athletes, musicians and artists, who defied BDS pressure and had nothing but a positive experience in Israel. “It’s a shame that athletes and musicians give into pressure from groups that align themselves with terrorist organizations,” he said.

“I choose to celebrate those who have come, and encourage everyone to be like the Iroquois – they are an incredible example… and the ties between Israel and Canada [and how this situation was solved] is a positive example for the rest of the world.”

The World Lacrosse Championship will continue until July 21 with 46 international teams competing in the tournament.

[Photo: FIL Lacrosse / YouTube ]