Israel Institute of New Zealand director, Dr David Cumin, is calling on the International Paralympic Committee to move an upcoming Paralympic event out of Malaysia following a decision, by the Malaysian Government, not to allow Israeli athletes to enter the country to participate in the event.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has expressed disappointment at the announcement by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to ban Israeli athletes from the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships which are being hosted in Malaysia in July/August and has said that it is working with Malaysia to “find a solution”.
However, Dr Cumin of the Israel Institute of New Zealand (IINZ) is calling on the IPC to act quickly to move the event in keeping with their vision and goals – especially those which espouse a desire to “Promote sports for athletes with impairments without discrimination for political, religious, economic, disability, racial, gender or sexual orientation reasons;”.
Dr David Cumin, says statements by Malaysian Prime Minister Mohamed are completely at odds with these goals and says that the decision to move the event out of Malaysia should be clear.
“Mohamad is a racist who has previously described Jews as “hook-nosed” and blamed them for creating the troubles in the Middle East and who has made it clear that Malaysia will not host any event that has representation from, or participation by, Israel”.
Dr Cumin says that, while it is commendable that the IPC has tried to resolve the issue, the bigotry of Malaysia’s leadership is clear and that allowing the event to continue with discrimination would be antithetical to the ideals of the IPC.
Dr Cumin also notes that there are clear lessons for New Zealand in what he refers to as ‘this shabby affair’.
“New Zealand joined forces with Malaysia (and Senegal and Venezuela) in co-sponsoring United Nations Security Council resolution 2334, against Israel, in 2016 – a move which was overwhelmingly criticised by many kiwis at the time. Now we’re starting to get a taste of the true racist motivations of one our bedfellows in that exercise and it’s a timely reminder to be very wary of who we lend our support to”.
Dr Cumin has also suggested that New Zealand could offer to ‘step into the breach’ and host the World Championship event.
“I note that Australian Labour MP, Michael Danby, has called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to host the Paralympics swimmers in Australia, “where swimmers of all faiths and nationalities will be welcome to attend, without discrimination” – and it would be good if New Zealand either supported that idea, or we offered to host it ourselves”.
Dr Cumin says that such a gesture would go a long way toward repairing some of the recent damage done to the New Zealand Israeli relationship.
UPDATE: The International Paralympic Committee has stood by its principles and withdrawn the event from Malaysia. Andrew Parsons, IPC President, said: “The Paralympic Movement has, and always will be, motivated by a desire to drive inclusion, not exclusion.” Furthermore, Para Sport New Zealand responded to IINZ in apparent agreement with the IPC move, saying “Para sport provides the opportunity for all nations and Para athletes to compete throughout the world. New Zealand teams want to ensure that they are able to compete against the best in the world at every competition.”