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CALL IT OFF! Swedish version

It’s déjà vu all over again: Israel attacks Gaza, killing hundreds of innocent civilians, sending rockets into United Nations schools where people sought shelter, preventing medical personnel from rescuing injured children who were starving amongst rotting corpses in the rubble, bombing hospital tents (donated by Denmark) which provided vital emergency care, ambushing Red Cross caravans and murdering volunteer drivers whose only goal was to get food to starving victims, using tanks to destroy the Church of Sweden’s medical clinic (which was providing first aid to the wounded) and physically obstructing the world’s news media from going in to report on what is happening.

They speak of their right to defend themselves against rockets Hamas fires into Israeli towns following a suspension of the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in December. They speak of upcoming elections in Israel, And they speak, as usual, of some kind of peace talks, this time in Egypt.

But as someone so wisely put it the other day, Palestinian/Israeli troubles did not begin in December of 2008.
Jenin   Jenin 2002

I was born in 1946, and the Palestinian/Israeli conflict has been a backdrop to my entire life: the creation of the state of Israel and the al-Nakba disaster (the banishment of over 700,000 Palestinians, 85% of the Arab population) in 1948; the murder in the same year of Swedish UN representative Folke Bernadotte by Lehi Zionist militants led by future Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir; utopian dreams of socialist kibbutzes; the Suez crisis in 1956 when Israel, England and France invaded Egypt until the USA put a stop to it.

I clearly recall Moshe Dayan, with his black eye patch, leading Israel to victory in the “Six Days’ War” against Egypt in 1967 and the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights; Golda Meir becoming Israel’s first female Prime Minister in 1969; Abba Eban with his polished Oxford accent; the creation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO); “Black September” in 1970 when Palestinians were forced out of Jordan and fled to Lebanon; and Leila Khaled, who carried out the first in a series of hijackings of Israeli airliners.

Then we witnessed the murders of Israeli Olympic athletes in Munich, Germany, in 1972; the October War of 1973 when Egypt tried to recapture territory lost in the Six Days’ War; the massacre of Palestinian refugees in the Tel al Zatar camp in Lebanon in 1976; the rescue of Israeli hostages at Entebbe Airport in Uganda the same year; the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to both Israel’s Menachim Begin (a former terrorist) and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat; and the murder of Sadat in 1981. In 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon, forcing Yasir Arafat to flee to Tunisia and while Libanes militsia under the protection of general Ariel Sharon (later prime minister I Israel) slaughtered Palestinian refugees in camps in Sabra and Shatila. In 1985 Palestinian terrorists hijacked the ship Achille Lauro, and in 1986 Israeli agents in Italy captured Mordechai Vanunu who had released information on Israel’s top secret nuclear weapons program. (He was released in 2004, forbidden to travel.)

In 1987 the first Palestinian Intifada riots flared up against Israeli occupiers. In 1993 the so-called Oslo Peace Accords culminated with Yasir Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin shaking hands and later sharing the Nobel Peace Prize. That same year Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli settler, killed 29 Palestinians as they worshipped in the Ibrahim Mosque in Hebron. In 1995, Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish right wing extremist.

Then followed renewed negotiations between Yasir Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David; Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount and the second Intifada in 2000; suicide bombers against Israeli civilians; reports of Israelis subjecting Palestinian prisoners to torture by shaking; the Jenin massacre; Israel’s 2002 initial construction of a “protection wall” on Palestinian territory (which continued despite strong criticism from the International Court in Haag) and Yasir Arafat’s death soon thereafter. The British peace activist Rachel Corries was killed by the Israeli Army in 2003 when she tried to stop demolition of Palestinian homes in southern Gaza. In 2005 the Gaza Strip was evacuated, and in 2006 Hamas won the Palestinian elections and Israel initiated bombing raids against the Hizbollah in Lebanon.

For all these years, in spite of the “peace process” and UN resolutions, and regardless of which Israeli parties or American presidents have been in power, the Israeli settlements and checkpoints and military stations and roads ¨For Israelis Only¨ and numbers of Jewish settlers occupying West Bank areas have all increased, as has Israeli control of water resources. And for all these years the areas controlled by Palestinians keep shrinking, their situation gets more desperate and the numbers of Palestinian casualties outnumber Israelis killed by three to one.

To me, Israel´s policies eerily resemble a slow and systematic ethnic cleansing. They continue to find ways to make life insufferable for Palestinian men, women, children, elderly and their representatives, secure in the knowledge that these tormented people will eventually perish, kill one another or give up and move elsewhere.
In 1968, about one hundred students, mostly from Lund University, were able to stop Sweden´s Davis Cup tennis match in Båstad against a team representing the then apartheid government of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The demonstrators, many of whom I knew personally, were described by the press as dirty mobsters, scum, riff-raff, a mob, professional protesters, long-haired freaks and savages.

In 1975 10,000 Swedish protesters tried to stop another Davis Cup match, this time against a team from Chile representing Augusto Pinochet´s grim dictatorship. Various Swedish artists produced posters illustrating our demands to CALL IT OFF, and I wrote a song with the same name. The match was played, but loud and angry protests from outside the stadium in Båstad were clearly heard in TV broadcasts back to Chile and around the world. There was no doubt regarding how the Swedish people felt about Chile’s military dictatorship.

On March 6 to March 9 this year Israeli tennis players are coming to compete against Sweden for the Davis Cup. In light of recent events in Gaza and atrocities in years past, I can only applaud those who want to call the match off, and who risk being labeled dirty mobsters, scum, riff-raff, a mob, professional protesters, long-haired freaks and savages by doing so.

Perhaps it’s time to write a new version of CALL IT OFF…
  stoppa matchen

Israel takes over
with terror, torture and tears
Then they talk of making peace
It’s sickening to hear
While West Bank and Gaza
are governed by grim fear
Israelis can play tennis
But dammit they won’t play it here!


At the 2008 Olympics
the Chinese put on a show
It bought them tons of good will,
much more than they could know
Israel’s politicians
are out to do the same
But we won’t help them advertise (glorify…justify…?)
their dirty terror games


So businessmen will threaten
to call in the police
They must protect their commerce
their profits and their “peace”
Here, just like in Israel
money runs politics
So how do they dare claim
that sports aren’t in the mix?


Which side are you on?
You’ve got to make a choice
Don’t pretend that you don’t care!
Use your heart, your voice
If they play their match
Israelis will feel fine
But if we stop this circus
We’re helping Palestine!

  Poster bySture Johannesson    
Painting by L Hejll, 2006

Translation: Roger Hinchliffe
Of Swedish lyrics by: Mikael Wiehe entitled “Stoppa matchen!”