Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Ibrahim Nusseibeh


Issam Khalidi

    A famous name in the history of sports in Mandate Palestine; one of the founders of the Arab Sport Club in Jerusalem in 1928 and its secretary with Fuad Khadra, Nizar Istanbouli, Fawzi Mohiuddin Nashashibi (treasurer), Khaled Al-Duzdar (head of the sports team). With Khader Kamal, Nusseibeh was intermittently the head of this club until 1948. The club included Moslem and Christian members. According to its internal law this club was based on strengthening the bodies of youth. Ibrahim - a member of the prominent (in politics and culture) Nusseibeh family whose roots in the holy city date back to the seventh century and who serve as custodians of the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, his standing in the Palestinian community helped confer a measure of legitimacy on the committee.
  Nusseibeh was graduated from Arab College in 1927 and became a teacher in one of Palestine's elementary schools.  

     In 1924, the leadership of the Jewish Maccabi Athletic Organization attempted to gain membership in the International Amateur Athletic Federation. This initiative ended in failure, as it was determined that Maccabi did not represent Arab, British and Jewish sportsmen in Palestine equally. However, this unsuccessful attempt did not discourage Maccabi leader Josef Yekutieli, who in the early 1925 attempted to gain Maccabi membership in the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). Yekutieli decided to employ a different tactic this time -- he first established the Palestine Football Federation. [1]
    According to FIFA rules, only associations representing states could be accepted as members. Thus, Maccabi officials were compelled to invite not only their Zionist political adversary, ha-Po’el, but also Arab teams to join the Palestinian Football Association (PFA). Therefore, in addition to the fourteen Zionist representatives that participated in the first meeting of the new soccer-association directorate, one Arab delegate took part—Ibrahim Nusseibeh, involvement in this first session, Nusseibeh’s name never again appeared in the directorate’s protocol,
[2] demonstrating the lack of a sincere desire by the PFA’s members for true integration.
   Resulting from the gross transgressions by the Zionists in the Palestinian Football Association and also resulting from the 1929 Revolt, many of the sporting leaders established the Arab Palestinian Sports Federation PSF or (Palestine Sport Association PSA) in April 1931, which immediately called for a boycott of Jewish teams and athletes. One of the achievements of this PSF was the organization of the tournament of The Trophy of the Youth Conference (Dir’ Mu’tamar al Shabab).[3] Arab Sports Club took part in this tournament. Because of the 1936 revolt, the activities of the PSF were hindered and PSF totally paralyzed at the end of the thirties. Few of its members joined the Jewish-dominated PFA.[4]

In July 1937, the Sports Federation formed a committee to set up a joint field day in Jerusalem similar to the one held in Jaffa in July 1935.[5] The committee was composed of Mr. Robert Young, a physical sports teacher at the Rawdat al-Ma’aref, Ibrahim Nusseibeh and Hussein Hosni, secretary.

   After its re-establishment in September, the Palestinian Sport Federation formed regional and branch committees (for different sports). Ibrahim Nusseibeh was a member of the track and field committee which also included Levon Kishishian, George Tannous and Hussein Hosni. Ibrahim Nusseibeh was also a member of the table tennis committee which included Isbiro Iqdis, Hazem Nusseibeh, Albert Abila and Rock Farraj. The federation entrusted Ibrahim, Hazem Nusseibeh and Rock Farraj to write down the statutes of table tennis.
In January 1946, Shabab al-Arab (The Arab Youth) Stadium was built in Haifa. It was officially opened with a match sponsored by the Arab Higher Committee between Shabab al-Arab and the Orthodox Club of Jerusalem. The Palestinian Radio Station broadcasted this match; Nusseibeh was assigned to cover it. The paper Filastin reported in November 1947 "The Islamic sports club in Jaffa met with the team of Barada, the champion of Damascus. The latter was defeated 3:2. The referee was Nusseibeh.”[6]
After the Nakba (catastrophe of 1948) and the expel of the 750,000 Palestinian from their homes and villages, Nusseibeh left to Jordan where he became a teacher and a supervisor of physical education.


[1] Kaufman, Haim. “Jewish Sports in the Diaspora, Yishuv, and Israel: Between Nationalism and Politics”. Israel Studies - Volume 10, Number 2, Summer 2005, pp. 147-167.
[2] Sorek, Tamer. “Palestinian Nationalism has left the field: A Shortened History of Arab Soccer in Israel.” International Journal of Middle East Studies – 35, (2003).
[3] The Arab Palestinian Youth Congress (Mu’tamar al-Shabab al- ‘Arabi al-Filastini) was established in Jerusalem in 1931. It was active in youth, scouts, sports and political activities, and was famous for its nationalistic trends. It had its first conference in 1932, the second in 1935. See ‘Isaal- Sifri. Filastin al-‘Arabiyya bayn al-Intidab wal-Sahyuniyya [Arab Palestine between the Mandate and Zionism] (Jaffa: Maktabat Filastinal-Jadida, 1937), 194–201.
[4] Issam Khalidi, “Sports and Aspirations: Football in Palestine 1900-948,” Jerusalem Quarterly 58, (2014), 74-89
[5] Issam Khalidi, Palestine Sports and Scouts: Factional Politics and the Maccabiad in the 1930s, Jerusalem Quarterly, 2015, issue 63/64, p. 87.

[6] Filastin, 27 November 1947

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