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August 9, 2015 1:00 pm

World Jewish Congress Rips Indonesia for Banning Entry to Israeli Badminton Player Misha Zilberman

avatar by Shiryn Solny

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Indonesia denied an entry visa to Israeli badminton player Misha Zilberman. Photo: Wikipedia.

Indonesia denied an entry visa to Israeli badminton player Misha Zilberman. Photo: Wikipedia.

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) blasted Indonesia on Friday for denying an entry visa to Israeli badminton player Misha Zilberman and criticized authorities in the country for “unfairly mixing politics and sports.”

“Let’s be clear about this: Here we have yet another blatant attempt to mix politics and sports, and to exclude Israeli athletes from international competitions,” said WJC CEO Robert Singer. “If this decision is upheld, it will do harm to Indonesia’s standing in the world, and it will raise the question whether this is the right place to hold such prestigious events.”

According to WJC, Zilberman, 26, was denied the visa despite submitting his application six months ago and providing all the necessary documentation. The visa would allow the athlete to compete in the World Badminton Championships held in Jakarta next week.

The Times of India reported that according to Indonesian immigration regulations, Israelis who wish to visit the country must obtain a special visa in Bangkok or Singapore after getting a sponsorship letter from Indonesian officials.

Singer called on Indonesia to immediately grant Zilberman the required visa, saying, “This decision to bar an Israeli player from an international sporting competition can’t stand and I urge Indonesia to allow Misha Zilberman to compete in these championships.”

The Jewish leader also criticized the Badminton World Federation (BWF), the organization behind the competition, for its inaction on the issue and for declining to assist Zilberman. Singer said the incident “casts a shadow” on the sporting event and that BWF’s failure to use its leverage on the matter “speaks volumes.”

“If athletes are excluded on political grounds, at the very least there should be some soul-searching going on,” he continued.

Zilberman, who represented Israel at the London Olympics in 2012, took to Facebook earlier this week to express his frustration with the BWF.

“After six months of exchanging letters, and after sending all the documents they requested, and after we arrived in Singapore, they are saying no. The World Badminton Federation knew about this and didn’t help,” he wrote. “They preferred to ignore it and just waited for it to pass. After two weeks in Singapore waiting for a visa they are probably sending me home instead of to the World Championships.”

The BWF has not commented on the issue.

Yuni Kartika, a spokeswoman for the Indonesian Badminton Association, said the organization was pushing authorities to grant Zilberman a visa before the week-long sporting event begins on Monday, The Times of India said. She added that the Indonesian immigration department told the association that Zilberman’s visa application was still being processed but refused to explain the delay.

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  • Indonesian government are listening to the Majority congress, I think this is the most stupid decision been made. Sport has nothing to do with politics.

    Damn Indonesiaku….

  • Didi

    This is stupid. I am an Indonesian, i hate Israel but sports should be neutral. If u really want to boycott Israel just stop buying their products. It’s all about the econonomy in the end.

  • Reform School

    Freedom-lovers must sack the World BADminton Federation and replace it with a new World GOODminton Federation, one that boycotts ALL nations that politicize sports.

  • Mireille Mechoullam

    The Muslim world is simply antisemitic and worthless. They never produce anything beside bring children in this world and not being able to feed them. I hope Israel will stop trying to help these no good for nothing when it comes with Israel ingenuity like water.

  • Roberto Orenstein

    Israel : Do not forget to send rescue missions if they get a Tsunami or Earthquake or Volcano eruptions .

  • steve`

    What do you expect from the muslim racists.

  • zadimel

    The next time the nation of Indonesia needs weather-related assistance,Israel ought to tell them to suck wind!

  • Indonesia has illegaly occupied the Irian jaya or western papua and is acting against israel. the problem with israel is that it always justifies its stand on palestine etc and not on its enemies follies. All those who attack israel are great frauds who have committed atrocities against the minority communities. Israel must expose them

  • Ian Bersten

    Just publish my first name if you do.

    He only has to find the right person to bribe and he will get in. No problems.

  • David Pinto

    I am sure that Indonesia is quaking in its boots.

  • I am an Indonesian citizen. Our government hate Israel, and support Palestine.
    but we, the christians in Indonesia hope the new relationship for Israel-Indonesia. Many Churches banned to build here. We must pray in the mall, cafe, hotels. I am sure Why zilberman can’t play badminton because of our government hate Israel today.