Israeli Arab High Jumper Pressured to Reconsider Competing for Israel

Palestinians and supporters of BDS urge Hanin Nasser not to compete for Israel at a European competition that begins Thursday

Hanin Nasser trains in Rishon Lezion, October 6, 2018.
Nir Keidar

Palestinians and supporters of BDS, the anti-Israel boycott movement, have pressed Israeli Arab high jumper Hanin Nasser to cancel her plans to represent Israel at a European competition that begins on Thursday.

A group called “Children of Haifa” wrote on Facebook that it had sent Nasser a letter asking her to reconsider her plans and promised to support her if she pulls out of the competition. The post asked: “What happens to a person who wins everywhere but loses themselves?”

The statement went on to say that the group had been unsuccessful in contacting Nasser, but had offered her other options through which to pursue an athletic career “via international sports clubs and respected Olympic coaches and the readiness of various groups to support her financially and embrace her promising talent.”

Hanin Nasser trains in Rishon Lezion, October 6, 2018.
Nir Keidar

“Hanin is not heeding the voice of her people and truth and is determined to participate beneath the banner of ‘Israel’ in the European high jump competition,” the post said. “We condemn her for representing the Zionist entity, which has uprooted our people, and for allowing herself to be used as a fig leaf for Israel’s sins and racism.”

The right-wing Israeli group Im Tirzu, which was the first to report the post, published comments by Israeli Arabs in support of Nasser, who is reportedly from the northern Galilee village of Arabeh:

One comment from Youssef Haddad, said: “We won’t let the extremists hurt Arab integration in Israeli society. We won’t stop and will continue to seek out more and more people like Hanin Nasser and as few Haneen Zoabis as possible among us,” Hadad said, referring to the former Arab Knesset member known for her Palestinian sympathies.

The Israeli Athletics Association said in response it was “very proud” of Nasser, calling her one of “many athletes from various fields, Jews and Arabs, citizens of Israel, who have represent Israel since the country’s birth. Athletics is a platform for creating greater unity, and there is place for politics on it. We are proud and pleased that Hanin is representing us abroad and wish her great success in the competition.”