In response to media inquiries concerning Giro d’Italia bowing to pressure from Israel’s right-wing coalition government by deleting any reference to West Jerusalem on its website and using Jerusalem instead, PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi condemned such a move and said:“Giro d’Italia is assuaging Israel by presenting Jerusalem as a unified city under Israel’s sovereignty.
The Giro d’Italia European cycling tour scheduled to take place next May will only serve to legitimize the annexation of Jerusalem and to distort the authenticity and character of the city .
The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, and under international law and conventions, Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem is unlawful and constitutes a direct violation of its obligations as a belligerent occupier.
By organizing such an event, Giro d’Italia is being complicit in Israel’s military occupation and its egregious violations of international law, conventions and consensus. We urge Giro d’Italia to stop placating Israel at the expense of our fundamental human rights and freedoms and to move the race outside of Israel.”
Hundreds of Cyclists Join Bike Rallies Across Italy Calling for Giro d’Italia to #RelocateTheRace From Israel
On November 25-26, cities throughout Italy held two-wheel demonstrations against the Giro d’Italia’s decision to hold the 2018 race start in Israel. It was one of the first stages in Italy of the international #RelocateTheRace campaign urging race organizers RCS MediaGroup to move the Big Start from Israel and refrain from helping Israel whitewash its violations of Palestinians’ human rights.
The bike rallies were organized ahead of the official 2018 Giro d’Italia presentation, to be held in Milan today, November 29, coinciding with the United Nation’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
Just last week, 120 human rights groups from around the world launched an international call to move the Giro d’Italia from Israel. The signatories incude renowned linguist Noam Chomsky, prominent jurists John Dugard and Richard Falk, Italian playwright Moni Ovadia, European Parliament members Eleonora Forenza, Curzio Maltese and Sergio Cofferati, and former vice president of European Parliament Luisa Morgantini.
In Rome, cyclists responded to the call in large numbers, with Piazza del Popolo (People’s Square) invaded by a hundred bikes. The cyclists navigated an obstacle course, pedaling through mock checkpoints, walls and settlements, symbols of Israel’s denial of Palestinians’ right to movement. A banner at the arrival announced the finish line: Free Palestine.
From the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, a group of cyclists biked to Ponte a Ema, home of the Cycling Museum Gino Bartali, to contest the manipulation of the memory of the famed cyclist, who will be honored by Giro 2018. Bartali “always stood with the oppressed.” A huge Palestinian flag was hung in front of the museum.
In the center of Naples, activists leafleted and spoke to the public, and a group of cyclists rode off to deliver letters to the mayor, city councilors, and municipal councils. A press release was also delivered to the newspapers Il Mattino and Roma.
The bike rally in Udine stopped off at two of the Giro sponsors, distributing leaflets and reading a statement expressing dissent over the start of the Giro in Israel. A delegation of representatives of local associations and the Palestinian community met with the Deputy Prefect of Udine and delivered a letter with the demands of the #RelocateTheRace campaign.
A “city pedal” held in Cagliari was joined by many activists and cyclists supporting the Palestinian cause. Starting from Piazza San Michele, the group cycled through the Sardinian city, informing the public of this latest attempt to legitimize the Israeli occupation through sports (sports-washing), and ended at the small port Marina Piccola.
In Turin, 50 cyclists pedaled through the streets of the center, leafleting and speaking in areas filled with people (Porta Nuova, Via Roma, Piazza S.Carlo). The cyclists stopped off at the Torino Film Festival where the campaign was welcomed with interest from the public and journalists present. The bike ride ended in Piazza Castello where a finish line was set up.
In Bologna a bike ride through the city center saw the participation of activists from various associations and civil society groups, including the Inner Tube bike shop, the public water movement, AssoPace Palestine, and the fair trade shop Ex Aequo. The cyclists distributed over 400 copies of the international call to move the start of the Giro from Israel, and were met with strong support for the campaign and solidarity with the Palestinian people.
The longest ride was unquestionably from Follonica to Grosseto in Tuscany, 52.5 km to show support for the Palestinian people, organized by Amici Cuba Alta Maremma Italo Calvino.
In Genoa, a group of cyclists met for a group photo to urge the Giro d’Italia not to celebrate a country that colonizes, represses, kills and segregates an entire people, including Palestinian athletes.
The weekend of bike rallies against the arrogant decision of the Giro d’Italia organizers to start the race in Israel was a success for the #RelocateTheRace campaign. It was the first stage of a race in which all those who love clean sports and support the universal values of human rights are invited to participate.