The noisy megaphone demonstrations mounted outside the Auckland Tennis Centre during the women's international ASB Classic this week have been a disgraceful act by a few protesters, a gross infringement on the rights of spectators and players, and an embarrassment to the city and the country.Can't disagree with that opening paragraph.
Where else in the world would a young sportswoman face that sort of abuse for the actions of her country?
Can't figure out if that's somehow a compliment on our democracy or a slur on the zealots!
The protests might have been more understandable if Shahar Peer had been representing Israel - if, for example, she had been playing in a Davis Cup tie between Israel and New Zealand. But she was competing as a professional sportswoman, one largely accustomed to playing on a worldwide circuit without disturbance and to a standard that has earned her a career-high ranking of 15.
She cannot help where she was born, or who her parents were, or if her country has military conscription from the age of 18.
Seen from such an international perspective, the Auckland protests can only be viewed as the work of misguided zealots. From the start, the protesters should have been allowed to make their point and then been moved on.I'm not generally in favour of "moving them on". They are entitled to protest, even it it was misguided and obnoxious. But I was there on one of the days and it was very annoying and disturbing as a spectator. I am sure the other players felt likewise: the noise was endless.
Shahar Peer, her fellow players and spectators also have their rights. This has sometimes been overlooked in the wake of the protests that so disrupted the 1981 Springbok tour. As it was, a diffident police reaction emboldened the protesters. Finally, on Thursday, after three warnings, more decisive action was taken. Arrests were made and loud-hailers confiscated.
Yes, they do have rights too - the right to watch great sport in peace after paying lots of money to enjoy the benefit. And Minto et al have a corresponding duty to ensure their rights are not infringed. That's how rights work. But Minto and Co. couldn't care less about anyone except their misguided and embarrassing "protest".
The irony was, of course, that Shahar Peer seemed to thrive on being the subject of such protest, even while admitting it was difficult "emotionally" to listen to the chanting. She demonstrated a temperament and fortitude that her distracted opponents were unable to match. On that level, as on so many others, the protesters scored a spectacular own-goal.
She was outstanding. I hope she comes back.
Her gutsy response to the protests here will ensure she receives a warm welcome if she returns to Auckland for a fifth time, even from those who oppose or harbour doubts about the policies of the Israeli Government.
Yes, she should receive a standing ovation.
The police should play their part in that by responding firmly but fairly to any protests.
Yep. This issue won't go away. Minto will be back, along with his rent-a-crowd mob that simply look for issues to get them five minutes of attention, and a front page photo on the Herald.