"Iroquois Tribe Team in Israel for the World Lacrosse
by Ilanit Chernick and Tamar Beeri in the Jerusalem Post, July 12,
It was touch-and-go for the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team on Wednesday
as they waited at Toronto Pearson Airport to find out their fate: would
they be able to join the other international teams in the World Lacrosse
Championship in Israel, or would they be forced to remain in Canada, shut
out from playing? This was to the first World Lacrosse Championship played
outside of the United States, Canada, England, or Australia. And with
46 teams already registered, it would be the largest lacrosse event ever.
Lacrosse is an important sport for the Iroquois - who are part of the
Native American Confederacy found across North America - as it was established
by them in around 1100 CE, and has been used for generations to settle
After fighting pressure from the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement
and making a conscious decision to attend the lacrosse tournament in Israel,
it was discovered that despite having booked their flight, they were unable
to travel on their Haudenosaunee passports, which are not internationally
recognized. Although the Iroqious have Canadian passports, they choose
not to travel on them for cultural reasons.
Former Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman, who was contacted by Israel Lacrosse
Association executive director Scott Neiss, played a key role in helping
to resolve the issue as fast as possible.
With just days until the competition, it took 72 hours of non-stop calls
and letters to embassies, ambassadors, prime ministers offices,
officials and foreign ministries to find a way around the stalemate, with
many people from both the Israeli and Canadian side doing their best to
fight the clock and make this work.
We had a stalemate because Canada said theyd love to send
them, and Israel would love them to come, but Israel doesnt allow
people to travel into the country without official passports or documentation,
Lipman told The Jerusalem Post. There are security issues, and Israel
cant have an open-door policy... [but] everyone wanted to make it
As hope began to fade, Lipman reached out to Irwin Cotler, a former Canadian
justice minister, who spoke with officials within the Canadian Foreign
Officials from Israel Lacrosse also managed to get in touch with the
Canadian Prime Ministers Office, and a plan was formulated by all
parties involved to get the team successfully to Israel.
However, it went down to the very last minute.
The Canadian Foreign Ministry issued an official letter that Israel accepted,
allowing the team to enter the country.
The letter had to be in a language that was comfortable for Canada
and that Israel accepted and despite this all going through at
the last minute the Iroquois Nationals are here, Lipman said.
The flight carrying the team from Toronto was delayed three hours, as
the airline awaited confirmation about the agreement between Israel and
According to Lipman, Israel represents incredible meaning for the Iroquois
because they identify with indigenous people (Jews) returning to their
Along the way, BDS tried everything to stop them from coming,
said Lipman. The fact that they are here is a tremendous victory
against BDS we give the Iroquois tribe so much credit for fighting
the pressure. Im thrilled that so many people were able to come
together and make this happen. We have 46 teams here who have come to
see the truth this championship showcases Israel at its best.
The championship was the center of a BDS storm in a bid to sabotage the
competition. In an open letter to the Iroquois Nationals, BDS claimed
Wingate Institute in Netanya where the competition is taking place
was built on the [Palestinian] lands of Khirbat al-Zababida,
[which was] ethnically cleansed of its Palestinian inhabitants in 1948
as part of the attacks focused on clearing indigenous villages along the
coast north of Tel Aviv.
Lipman rejected the charges.
His message to athletes, musicians and artists who cave into BDS pressure
is that those who have come have had nothing but a positive experience.
Its a shame that athletes and musicians give into pressure
from groups that align themselves with terrorist organizations,
he said. I choose to celebrate those who have come, and encourage
everyone to be like the Iroquois they are an incredible example
and the ties between Israel and Canada [and how this situation was solved]
is a positive example for the rest of the world.
It was a happy ending all around Lipman reported from the opening
of the competition on Thursday night that there was a wonderful
vibe, with fans from countries all around the world enjoying [it]
A leader of the confederacy told Lipman that its an honor
of a lifetime to be here with you.
The Championships were held from July 12-21. The Opening Ceremony and
first games will be held at Netanya Stadium on July 12. All the games
(July13-21) were played at Wingate Institute, south of Netanya.
Out of 46 teams, Israel made it to the quarter-finals (final 8) and Iroquois
to the semis (final four). The final standings were.
- Iroquois Nation
- Puerto Rico