On April 8, activists of the Rome Palestine Solidarity Network organized a boycott action in the Adidas store in Via del Corso in Rome’s historic center. On the same day as the Tel Aviv Marathon, and following shortly after the Jerusalem Marathon on March 25, both sponsored by Adidas, activists dressed as runners sprinted through the store denouncing the use of sporting events by the State of Israel in an attempt to re-brand its image and hide its policies of occupation, colonization and apartheid.
Since 1967, Israel has transferred nearly 500,000 settlers to the occupied Palestinian territories, in violation of international law and dozens of UN resolutions, forcing Palestinians off their land and reducing the West Bank to a few isolated patches of land separated by checkpoints, military bases, settlements and the “Apartheid Wall”.
In Tel Aviv, the same Israeli soldiers responsible for the implementation of these policies took part in the marathon without paying registration fees and a unit of the army was involved in their registration.
The Jerusalem Marathon not only included a special race for Israeli soldiers but also passed through the illegal Israeli settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev. In addition, the marathon was organized by the Municipality of Jerusalem, responsible for continuous expulsion of Palestinian families and demolition of Palestinian houses in occupied East Jerusalem, policies aimed at ethnic cleansing and Israeli control of the city.
A large coalition of Palestinian civil society organizations, along with an international campaign, called on Adidas to withdraw its sponsorship of the marathons in Israel and to respect the Palestinian call for boycott of Israeli cultural and sporting events until Israel complies with international law.
Adidas, however, chose to run with apartheid, failing in its commitment to respect “rules that society expects of a responsible company.”
In Rome, activists called on shoppers to support the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, inspired by the international boycott campaign that helped end the Apartheid regime in South Africa, and to boycott companies such as Adidas, which profit from the trampling of Palestinian rights.
Rome Palestine Solidarity Network