[Published 28 December 2013]
The 2013 World Youth Chess Championships just held in Abu Dhabi have been marred by the scandalous behaviour of the 120 national Chess Federations that agreed to compete against Israeli players as an unidentified group under the banner of FIDE - the World Chess Federation.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) like most Arab countries, does not recognize Israel. In 2009, the country denied Israeli tennis player Shahar Pe’er a visa to compete in the Dubai Tennis Championships, garnering widespread condemnation.
The invitation to compete was clear and unambiguous:
“The UAE Chess Federation and Al Ain Chess Club, under the auspices of FIDE, have the honor to invite all FIDE member federations to participate in the World Youth Chess Championships 2013 (Under 8, 10,12, 14, 16 and 18 years old – open and girls) scheduled 17 (arrival) – 29 (departure) December 2013 in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.”
Somewhere thereafter the World Chess Federation became a willing player in excluding Israeli children aged 8-18 playing under their national flag and national identity.
Palestine - a member state of UNESCO whilst still claiming to be stateless - has been calling for inane and senseless academic and economic boycotts to be instituted against Israel in support of Palestinian statehood.
Yet Palestine is a member of the World Chess Federation and was represented by two players whose country was designated as “Palestine”.
The ultimate insult to individual Israeli competitors was the failure to list their country as “Israel” in the players’ biographies. Instead they were identified as citizens of “FIDE” - a place with no Capitol, area or population.
Palestinian competitors fared slightly better - players at least having their country identified as “Palestine” in their biographies - although that country too is listed without a Capitol, area or population.
One would be hard put to find a more blatant case of discrimination, racism and apartheid - played out against children to boot.
What mindless morons representing Chess Federations in competing countries like America, Australia, England, Norway, Sweden, Canada and France allowed this farce to be perpetrated?
What have their Governments had to say about this pernicious and underhanded behaviour?
Barack Obama and the European Union share a common silence in failing to raise their voices in protest against delegations from their respective member Federations acting in this manner.
Even worse Israel seems to have accepted its children being treated as non-entities. Why were they not withdrawn from the competition when this heinous conduct was revealed?
Moshe Slav, president of the Israeli Chess Federation told J-Wire:
“It’s true that we were asked to play as the FIDE and that our flag and country name be removed from the tournament web site…but the request was made by Israeli security in order to safeguard the participants.”
Even the Israeli Chess Federation’s web site is carrying an announcement stating that the official web site for the Abu Dhabi tournament:
“which lists all the players and nationalities took down the Israeli flag and has even gone so far as to rename them from the country “FIDE” attributing them the FIDE flag as well. It is a very unfortunate precedent for the World Youth and unheard of until now.”
They add that the Israeli flag was featured when the web site went public but had since been removed
Moshe Slav added:
“Our hosts were very good and I would like to take this opportunity of thanking Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin and the Limor Livnat the Minister for Sport for the wonderful help they provided. Sending the delegation was very costly and I would like to publicly thank through J-Wire those who helped fund the delegation’s costs.”
Did those contributing funds understand that the Israeli delegation would be treated in this shabby manner and that apparently the Israeli Chess Federation would roll over and allow the children to be compelled to play under the cover of anonymity?
At a time when Israel is being accused of alleged discrimination against its Arab and Beduin populations by a bevy of non-Government organisations (NGO) funded by wealthy overseas funds including substantial funding from the European Union - the double standards revealed in the course of this highly discriminatory competition beggars disbelief.
Yet it appears no protest has been raised by any of these NGO’s. Obviously discrimination against the Jewish population of Israel is acceptable. Indeed one would not be surprised if these NGO’s took the view that Jewish competitors - be they adults or children - deserve to be discriminated against in international forums and events such as these championships.
The views of funding organisations such as the Soros Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the New Israel Fund need to be sought out and clarified.
Will this practice now become acceptable at all future international meetings where Israelis attend?
It is about time Israel sat up, took notice and condemned such decisions in the strongest terms and demanded the same rights as are conferred on competitors from other countries - instead of being constantly denigrated and delegitimised in an increasing number of cases of overt Jew-hatred justified as being necessary in the pursuit of the human rights of others.
The World Chess Federation and the member Federations that engineered this blatant discrimination against Jewish children should hang their collective heads in shame.
I have requested the International Chess Federation to respond to this article prior to its publication - but no response has so far been received.