On Saturday, 12 February, Samidoun NY/NJ joined Within Our Lifetime and the Palestinian Youth Movement NY to rally outside the PUMA flagship store in Manhattan. The picket took place as part of the global day of action to boycott PUMA because of the German athletic wear brand’s sponsorship of the Israel Football Association, an institution of Zionist sportswashing and colonialism.
Not only does the IFA represent “Israel” sports, built atop the colonization of Palestine, it even includes as members siz teams based in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank of Palestine. PUMA’s sponsorship of the IFA provides direct economic support to Israeli apartheid, colonialism and occupation as well as political and moral endorsement of its policies and practices.
In response, the brand is facing a call from Palestinian athletes and global voices of conscience for a boycott until it ends its sponsorship of the IFA. Another athletic wear brand, Adidas, earlier ended its sponsorship following a global campaign.
Participants in the demonstration chanted loudly outside PUMA’s flagship store in Manhattan, denouncing the company’s complicity in Zionist crimes. Laila of Samidoun chanted “Long live Palestine, Free, free Palestine;” “Puma, Puma, you will see, Palestine will be free! Puma, Puma, you will learn, refugees will return!” outside the large store.
Passers-by met the protest with strong support and enthusiastic responses, with many people learning for the first time about PUMA’s involvement with Israeli crimes aginst the Palestinian people. One man, who had entered the store earlier, came out to ask the demonstrators questions and repeatedly said he had no idea, apologizing for having bought PUMA products and pledging not to buy them again.
Many people showed their solidarity with Palestine and support for the #BoycottPUMA campaign by taking solidarity photos.
The rally closed with statements from several organizers. “We stand not only with the Palestinian prisoners, but with the cause for which they sacrificed their freedom: the defense and liberation of Palestinian land. From Ahmad Sa’adat to Georges Abdallah, we join our struggle with theirs for the liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea,” said Joe Catron, U.S. coordinator of Samidoun.
An organizer with Within Our Lifetime (WOL) said:
“Today we are here outside PUMA’s Flagship store in Manhattan as part of of the international day of action to #BoycottPUMA, to demand that PUMA end its sponsorship of the Israel Football Association.
In recent years, more than 200 Palestinian sports clubs have called on Puma to end this sponsorship deal and stop supporting the ongoing zionist colonization of Palestine.
That least we can do here is answer the call from Palestinians to boycott the zionist entity. The absolute least we can do is not buy Puma’s products until the company adheres to the mission of BDS. But there is so much more for us to do, so much more that we can do to advance the struggle of total liberation in Palestine.
As people who believe uncompromisingly in the struggle for Palestinian liberation, and as people living within the border of the United States—the largest financial and military backer of Zionist settler colonialism—we have a duty to ensure the success of Palestinian resistance by any means necessary.
We have to defend the Palestinian peoples right to resist and fight for liberation in the face of genocide, from Sheikh Jarrah to al-Naqab to Nablus to the whole of Palestine from the river to the sea.
BDS is the floor not the ceiling. We must use our position and collective power here to uphold the call, but we must do so while pressing forward with the eradication of settler colonialism in Palestine. Let us become organized, and strong together, and make it impossible for Puma, HP, Caterpillar, the United States, and the entire world to continue supporting Zionism so that the total liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea, can be achieved.
And until Palestine has been liberated, we must continue to escalate our struggle from wherever we are, with whatever we have.”