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January 7, 2014 0

United Arab Emirates Bars Another Israeli Athlete from Sporting Competition

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Dan Mori

Update: On Jan­u­ary 12, 2014, the Vitesse foot­ball team issued the fol­low­ing statement:

“In ret­ro­spect, dif­fer­ent orga­ni­za­tions have said there were options to make it pos­si­ble to travel to the UAE with Mori, who is Israeli. The com­plex­ity around orga­niz­ing travel to coun­tries with spe­cific entry pro­ce­dures in a short space of time meant not all the options were uti­lized. Vitesse regrets the com­mo­tion and offers apolo­gies to every­one who feels in any way affected by the deci­sion to exclude Mori.”

Once again, the United Arab Emi­rates has report­edly acted to pre­vent an Israeli ath­lete from enter­ing the coun­try to par­tic­i­pate in a local sport­ing event. Accord­ing to news reports, Dutch soc­cer team Vitesse Arn­hem was informed on Sat­ur­day that Israeli squad mem­ber Dan Mori would not be allowed to travel to Abu Dhabi for upcom­ing soc­cer matches, despite pre­vi­ous assur­ances that Mori would be admit­ted. Vitesse Arn­hem decided to travel to the UAE with­out Mori, a move that drew crit­i­cism from Dutch politi­cians and organizations.

The most well-known inci­dent involv­ing an Israeli ath­lete being barred from the UAE occurred in 2009 when ten­nis player Sha­har Peer was refused a visa to par­tic­i­pate in the Dubai Ten­nis Cham­pi­onship. As a result, a num­ber of inter­na­tional ten­nis stars, includ­ing Venus Williams, pub­li­cally con­demned the visa rejec­tion, and Andy Rod­dick, the 2008 men’s sin­gles cham­pion, with­drew from the tour­na­ment. The Dubai tour­na­ment was heav­ily fined for its actions. Although Peer was granted a visa to par­tic­i­pate in sub­se­quent years, her access and mobil­ity were severely lim­ited by the UAE.

A more recent episode occurred in Decem­ber 2013, when the Israeli under-18 chess team com­peted in the World Youth Chess Cham­pi­onship in Dubai. Accord­ing to reports, the UAE had ini­tially refused to allow the Israeli team to com­pete, but reversed its deci­sion after FIDE – the World Chess Fed­er­a­tion – threat­ened to nul­lify the tournament.

The dif­fi­cul­ties encoun­tered by Israeli ath­letes exist not just in the UAE but across the broader Arab world, and even when Israelis are per­mit­ted to par­tic­i­pate they often encounter severe prej­u­dice. An exam­ple of this occurred dur­ing the Octo­ber 2013 FINA Swim­ming World Cup tour­na­ment in Doha, Qatar, when orga­niz­ers report­edly removed an Israeli flag from out­side the aquatic cen­ter where the event was tak­ing place, and TV cov­er­age of a race involv­ing an Israeli swim­mer cov­ered over the Israeli flag on the screen. And dur­ing the same month, the Tunisian Ten­nis Fed­er­a­tion was sus­pended from the Davis Cup for one year after Tunisian player Malek Jaziri refused to play a Davis Cup match against Israeli Amir Weintraub.

Most inter­na­tional sport­ing asso­ci­a­tions require that hosts facil­i­tate the par­tic­i­pa­tion of all ath­letes, regard­less of eth­nic­ity or nationality.

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December 17, 2013 2

Qatari Book Fair Highlighting UK Partnership Marred By Anti-Semitism

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British and Qatari offi­cials tour book fair

The Doha Inter­na­tional Book Fair, held in Qatar on Decem­ber 4–14 and billed as part of “Qatar-UK 2013” — a year of “events to cel­e­brate and develop the part­ner­ship between Qatar and the United King­dom” — fea­tured many anti-Semitic books from sev­eral dif­fer­ent pub­lish­ers and avail­able from mul­ti­ple book sellers. 

A state­ment from the Qatari Min­is­ter of Cul­ture on the fair’s web­site noted that the UK was selected as the “guest of honor.” The fair’s web­site also included a photo of the British Min­is­ter of Cul­ture with his Qatari coun­ter­part vis­it­ing the event.

The anti-Semitic Arabic-language books were avail­able at the fair, accord­ing to the web­site, which included a floor index of where vis­i­tors could phys­i­cally pur­chase the book.

For exam­ple, sev­eral pub­lish­ers from Syria, Egypt, Jor­dan and Lebanon offered dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the noto­ri­ous anti-Semitic forgery The Pro­to­cols of the Learned Elders of Zion and sold them at var­i­ous prices. Another anti-Semitic book titled, The Secrets of the Tal­mud, Expos­ing the Jew­ish Plot to Con­trol the World, was sold for 75.00 Qatari Rials (about 20 US$).

Books pro­mot­ing Hitler, Holo­caust denial and anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries were on dis­play in var­i­ous sec­tions (e.g., The Facts About the Zionist-Nazi Secrete Rela­tions).

Accord­ing to Qatari media, the British Embassy in Doha and the British Cul­tural Coun­cil helped orga­nize British par­tic­i­pa­tion in the fair. The UK helped orga­nize “work­shops for fam­i­lies, chil­dren and book enthu­si­asts,” accord­ing to the fair website.

The sale of anti-Semitic books is counter to the fair’s mis­sion, as stated on its web­site, of “rais­ing the cul­tural and intel­lec­tual level of the soci­ety.” It also under­mines the larger aim of “Qatar-UK 2013,” which seeks to “increase engage­ment between the peo­ple of both coun­tries in the spirit of inno­va­tion, open­ness and learning.”

Just last month, the Shar­jah Inter­na­tional Book Fair (SIBF) in the United Arab Emi­rates, which report­edly attracted 1 mil­lion vis­i­tors from across the region, fea­tured sev­eral infa­mous anti-Semitic books as well.

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October 22, 2013 0

Flag At Swim Competition In Qatar Triggers Hatred Toward Israel

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Screen­shot of Twit­ter post denounc­ing dis­play of Israeli flag at the FINA Swim­ming World Cup in Qatar.

Pho­tos of an Israeli flag at the FINA Swim­ming World Cup in Doha, Qatar, trig­gered a wave of angry reac­tions on Twit­ter, includ­ing calls for future sports boy­cotts against Israel.

While it is notable that Israeli swim­mers par­tic­i­pated in the Octo­ber 20–21 com­pe­ti­tion — includ­ing Amit Ivry, win­ner of a sil­ver medal - hun­dreds of Twit­ter users, includ­ing Qatari jour­nal­ists, took to Twit­ter to express shock at their government’s deci­sion to allow the Israeli flag to fly out­side the Hamad Aquatic Cen­ter along with flags rep­re­sent­ing var­i­ous other coun­tries com­pet­ing in the event.

Many of the Tweets con­demned the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the Israeli team and demanded the removal of the flag form out­side the Aquatic Cen­ter. Oth­ers Tweets protested what they described as the “nor­mal­iz­ing of rela­tions with the Zion­ist Entity.” Sev­eral users posted an image of a poster that reads, “Israel not-welcomed in Qatar.”

Reports from the region indi­cate that the Israeli flag was taken down before the end of the event in response to the reac­tion on Twit­ter. A graphic of the Israeli flag was also dis­torted on the tele­vi­sion broad­cast of the event when an Israeli swim­mer medaled.

One Twit­ter user wrote, “Boy­cott should become uni­ver­sal; one of the results should be to ban the Zion­ist Entity from play­ing in the World Cup with an offi­cial FIFA res­o­lu­tion.” The FIFA World Cup is sched­uled to be played in Qatar in 2022.

This inci­dent raises con­cerns over Qatar’s abil­ity to host inter­na­tional sport­ing events with­out suc­cumb­ing to pres­sure from those who seek to politi­cize sports.

As more Arab coun­tries host inter­na­tional sport­ing events, some Israeli ath­letes have encoun­tered chal­lenges.  Most inter­na­tional sport­ing fed­er­a­tions man­date that host coun­tries allow all qual­i­fy­ing ath­letes to com­pete. How­ever, in 2009, the United Arab Emi­rates refused to issue a visa to Israeli ten­nis star Sha­har Peer to enable her to com­pete in the Dubai Ten­nis Cham­pi­onship, a stop on the Women Ten­nis Asso­ci­a­tion (WTA) tour. The bar­ring of Peer vio­lated the guide­lines of the WTA (which were sub­se­quently tight­ened fur­ther) and the UAE was forced to pay a fine.

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