March 6, 2009

Protest mars Israel-Sweden tennis event

The Davis Cup battle between Israel and Sweden Friday at Malmo was marked by protesters angry about Israel's recent actions in Gaza.

About 20 demonstrators braved Malmo's chilly morning temperatures ans gatheres outside the arena where the matches were schedule. The protesters are with the International Solidarity Movement, an international protest movement against Israel's policies.

Some played tennis with plastic rackets, while others held up the Palestinian flag and pro-Palestinian banners, The Local reported.

If there are enough of us, we'll try to block the entrance to the stadium area and, for example, try to make sure the match is postponed. But we aren't going to use any violence, said demonstrator Oscar Schon.

Thursday, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, accused Swedish authorities of an anti-Semitic double standard and political hubris. By singling out only Israel for such unfair treatment, Swedish authorities ensure more anti-Jewish bigotry in the future.

Police helicopters circled the event at Malmo's Baltic Hall Stadium and nearby there was a large police presence, as well as many journalists and photographers.

Earlier, event organizers decided to bar spectators from the 4,000-seat site of the Davis Cup matches. They said the decision wasn't political but was because of security concerns.