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December 26, 2013 2:04 pm

Israeli Under 18 Chess Team Forced to Compete in Abu Dhabi Under False Name

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Israeli chess champion Anastasia Vuller.

The Israeli under-18 chess team currently competing in the World Youth Chess Championship in Abu Dhabi has been forced to do so without national identification, The Algemeiner has learned.

Shortly after the start of the event, the tournament’s official website removed the Israeli flags and changed the country listing to FIDE – an acronym for Federation Internationale des Echecs or the World Chess Federation – for all Israeli players.

The Israel team includes five players; three boys and two girls. Among them is 10 year old Anastasia Vuller who won the under-10 European Chess Championships two months ago.

Mr. Almog Burstein, Executive Director of the Israeli Chess Federation, told The Algemeiner that the Israeli flag was initially posted on the website but was subsequently taken down.

“I know that on the first day of the tournament it was there, two days later the name and the flag disappeared,” he said.

From his experiences in previous events Burstein said it was likely that “the organizers got instructions from government officials to do so.”

“For them there is no such country as Israel, ” he said.

The Israeli players listed on the tournament's website.

The Israeli Chess Federation’s website also wrote about what happened in a sarcastic headline entitled: “Now we can reveal that Israel is not competing in the World Championships for young people in Abu Dhabi.”

The Chess News website which reported on the discrimination, said that the move was unprecedented.

“One very unfortunate development concerns the Israeli players and delegation,” the site wrote, going on to describe how the Israelis’ national identities were removed. “It is a very unfortunate precedent for the World Youth, and unheard of until now.”

Israeli daily Ma’ariv, reported that Israel originally hesitated to send its delegation to the Championships because of geopolitical tensions. “I was against sending a team to Abu Dhabi,” Burstein confirmed to The Algemeiner.

Recounting another similar incident from Israel’s past, Burstein indicated that things may be improving for Israeli competitors.

“In 1986 there was a world chess olympiad in Dubai, at that time they didn’t invite Israel and I was a member of a group that organized a protest tournament in Jerusalem… Four countries sympathized with Israel and didn’t go to Dubai. The four countries were Sweden Norway, Denmark and Holland.”

“On that occasion they said very clearly, ‘we can’t and will not invite Israel,’ and nevertheless the World Chess Organization gave them permission to host the olympiad,” he said. Even the U.S. team went to Dubai, he added.

“This was a different situation,” Burstein said, referring to the current competition, “they wanted to have Israel at the championship.”

“I was very surprised to learn that they could play there, but of course without the flag we should have thought about it twice,” he concluded.

In October a similar incident occurred in Qatar, where Israeli swimmers competed in a tournament in which the Israeli flag did not appear.

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  • Duck

    Disgusting muslims.

  • Ariel

    I think it might be better for their security since they could become easy targets. Imagine if something would happen to them while being in competition? It would be worst.

    Btw, Israel does already business with Qatar and UAE, under the table…

  • Z.Ackerman

    Yes, I agree with everyone, Israel is a country, which must be recognized with and be proud of it. And any country , which doesn’t recognize as a legitimate entity must be prohibited from hosting any sport event at any circumstances. Opposite they have to be fined heavily and exempt for life from competing in any event. This would teach them a lesson and make sure they will never exempt any country from participating in sport event. The same way as Football Federation heavily fines countries, which shows anti-Semitic behavior during a game. And they play games in empty stadiums and if they continue the same behavior they will loose membership for life

  • judorebbe

    They absolutely should be competing – and while competing, wearing shirts with Israeli flags. Jews can’t “walk out” on anti-Semitism.
    The best vindication is winning, not staying home.

  • Kris Kristian

    The Arabs aare sick and disgusting.

    Israel should not have sent a delegation to Dubai.
    Unfortunately, there are so many Jews who visit Dubai.

    Surely, one can do without Dubai or any other country that shows hatred of Jews and Israel.

    The tragedy for those children, would have been that they would have missed the opportunity to play for their country.
    But they are not playing for their country.

    The UN should introduce an international law, which shows that any country wanting to host an international competition, whatever it may be,should be struck from whichever competition and be banned for some years until they learn to “behave”

  • NuritG

    “…they wanted to have Israel at the championship.”? If they did why they wiped Israel’s identity off? Israel needs to launch a complain with the chess Federation. Countries that involve politics with sport and culture events, should not be allowed to host such tournaments. As for Israel, when will you find your dignity? The flag was removed, the name was removed, Israel, in an international protest, LEAVES. Abu Dhabi one other anti-Semitic Moslem country.

  • Abbushuki

    Ah. Let the Israelis win then all pull out flag as the “chess club” is announced as the winner. Then let the word get out: Goodbye Dubye, boo do do on abbu Dhabi. No more events in those countries without equality.

  • Joy

    Despite the horrible circumstances of this discriminatory tournament, the young Israeli chess players should not be denied the opportunity to show their skills and, hopefully,win a few matches. Their comportment during the tournament and, in particular, their skills (if they win) would speak volumes – and give them something to relate to their friends & families, and later to their children and grandchildren. Forget – for the sake of sport & achievement – the ugly adult world of politics! Boycotting the tournment would benefit no one – particularly the young Israelis! Remember the 1936 Olympics and the history Jesse Owens and even a handful of Jews made during that momentous Olympiad!

  • Yshegal

    Avrumeleh, your comment really had potential until you started to blame the problem on Obama. Obama has nothing to do with it. I’d hate to break it to you but no president will ever really care that much about a youth chess tournament for more than a few seconds. That responsibility does not fall into the hands of the U.S. president. To say Obama is the reason America won’t pull out of this tournament is a quite far-reaching, just because you clearly don’t like Obama.

    Also I see the point people are making that Israel should not be a wimp and just pull out of the tournament, but I feel like the problem won’t get any attention unless Israel stays in the tournament. Otherwise people won’t even notice that Israel was supposed to participate and then there would be no remarks of support likes the one from the world chess organization .

    • Avrumeleh

      I disagree about Obama, to this extent…He’s the President of the United States who still yields enormous power, even if I believe it’s arguable that this has waned under his leadership. For someone who purports to be the leader of the “free world” and a stalwart friend of Israel, his influence would be significant if he would begin to make it clear that the kind of discrimination and unfairness that we see now in Abu Dhabi is unacceptable and might…realistically…cause a change. Without this, Israel bashing will continue unabated despite American’s alleged disapproval. Of course I don’t blame Obama, exclusively, and if I gave that impression, I was wrong to have done so. But, he deserves some in my estimation…maybe bore than most others who don’t so much as claim to care.

  • Degel

    Did a terrorist group send any threat? May be it was done for security reason, may be they wanted to protect children from stress and bulling? In any way they shouldn’t get away with that.

  • Avrumeleh

    Hosting an international competition when a country’s policy is to discriminate like this is intolerable. That other countries who purport to disagree and oppose such discrimination participate in this kind of thing…like the USA and the rest of the “West”…reveals their cynicism and abetting of this disgrace. Israel, sadly, seems desperate to be accepted under ANY circumstances and it’s probably for political reasons along with the desire to afford their citizens the opportunity to participate in international competition, whatever the unfortunate circumstances. If the USA were to say that it will not involve itself in this kind of thing and live up to that, the Arabs wouldn’t be able to get away with it. Under this President, that will not happen and hopefully, the next president, whoever it might be, will show some real loyalty, leadership and backbone and place the USA’s participation on the line, depending upon the host country’s recognizing the right of its ally, Israel, to participate under her flag. By the way, in 2014, the World Team Cup will be held in the capital of UAE, Dubai The President of the USA will still be Barack Obama, so Israel will, no doubt, participate as a non-country. Thanks for nothing, Barack.

  • schm0e

    It takes an uncommon selflessness to sacrifice national pride for the sake of allowing these children to do what they do best; what they might never have another time to do in their young lives.

    It is that sort of humanity that endears Jews to me.

  • Mireille Mechoullam

    It’s too bad that Israel bent by accepting to play without the Israeli Flag representing the Israeli Delegation. It’s so disrespectful. Just to tell you what happened in Miami Beach sometimes ago. There was a private club in Miami beach by the name: The Bath and Jews were not allowed to be members. One New year they invited the doctors of an hospital called: St Francis run by nuns. Most doctors of that hospitals were Jewish. The respond to the club was: We do not want to be welcome one night a year. The doctors respecting themselves didn’t accept the invitation.
    End of story: don’t expect respect from others if you don’t respect yourself.

  • Robby

    I agree with the other writers here, Israel should not have participated.

    But since they did I hope they at least exhibited something like a baseball cap/t shirt with Hebrew writing.

  • Harvey

    This is just too bad . Pull them out now

  • Betty

    How can we expect others to stand up against blatant discrimination , if we don’t stand up fo ourselves

    • HaroldT

      I wholeheartedly agree with Betty. How could they allow the chess federation to have the competition under such circumstances ?

  • Eldad

    Stop playing the victim. Israelis/Jews should not attend competitions in countries that deny their identity. Better losing a competition than your/our pride. Those who attend under false identify legitimize anti-Semitism/Israel bashing.

    • judorebbe

      They absolutely should be competing – and while competing, wearing shirts with Israeli flags. Jews can’t “walk out” on anti-Semitism.
      The best vindication is winning, not staying home.

  • Carl

    No country should be permitted to host an international competition without full and equal participation and recognition of all nations. There needs to be severe penalties for such behavior, including monetary fines and prohibition from participating in future events.

    • harry nihom

      Conmtinue participating but beat the other teams.

      Shabbat Shalom
      Former dutchman