Saudi Ara­bia calls Is­rael’s bluff

If the Saudis do not feel like wel­com­ing Is­raelis on their land, they are per­fectly right in do­ing so

Gulf News - - The Views - By Tariq A. Al Maeena

An in­ter­na­tional chess tour­na­ment that was sched­uled to be held in Riyadh, Saudi Ara­bia, has had its venue moved to Rus­sia. The or­gan­is­ers of the World Blitz and Rapid Cham­pi­onship con­firmed the change in venue this past week. Their rea­son? Is­raeli play­ers threat­ened le­gal ac­tion over be­ing barred from the event.

The World Chess Fed­er­a­tion (Fide) also added it would no longer be host­ing tour­na­ments in coun­tries that de­nied en­try or re­stricted par­tic­i­pants based on na­tional ori­gins.

In ex­plain­ing their de­ci­sion, Fide boss Emil Su­tovsky, an Is­raeli, said: “The cham­pi­onships were moved from Saudi Ara­bia to Rus­sia due to the pol­icy adopted by the Saudi or­gan­is­ers. The new lead­er­ship of Fide made it clear that Fide will no longer stage its of­fi­cial events in the coun­tries that deny en­try visa and fair treat­ment to all the el­i­gi­ble play­ers. We will stick to this pol­icy and make sure that chess play­ers from any coun­try will not be banned from par­tic­i­pa­tion in the of­fi­cial events, based on their na­tion­al­ity, eth­nic­ity, race or gen­der.”

Although Saudi Ara­bia was con­tracted to hold three such an­nual tour­na­ments, the Is­raelis howled and screamed when seven Is­raeli chess play­ers were de­nied visas to attend the tour­na­ment a year ago. The Saudis, much like the coun­tries of the re­gion, do not have any diplo­matic re­la­tions with Is­rael and for good rea­son.

The Is­raelis then be­gan to muster enough forces to pitch their point across to en­sure in­clu­sion in all fu­ture such events. They brought in the Law­fare Project, an or­gan­i­sa­tion de­scribed as ‘an Amer­i­can, non-profit, think tank and lit­i­ga­tion fund that pro­tects the hu­man and civil and rights of Jewish and pro-Is­rael com­mu­ni­ties world­wide’.

The Project also takes le­gal ac­tions to pro­tect free speech and civil rights by chal­leng­ing anti-Semitism and dis­crim­i­na­tion against Jews.

Well, well, well. A coun­try that vi­o­lates ev­ery hu­man and civil right in the book has now reached for a Zion­ist think tank to pro­mote their cause. Ap­par­ently, with the head of the chess fed­er­a­tion be­ing an Is­raeli, they suc­ceeded in ax­ing Saudi Ara­bia from host­ing fur­ther com­pe­ti­tions.

Pol­icy of apartheid

Is­rael is a coun­try that un­der­stands hu­man and civil rights only when it comes to the Jews. All other re­li­gions are sub­ject to dis­crim­i­na­tion, hu­mil­i­a­tion and even worse. It will con­tinue to be iso­lated by the Arab world as long as it prac­tises its pol­icy of apartheid against the Pales­tini­ans, whose lands have been il­le­gally oc­cu­pied by the Is­raelis.

Is­rael has no ex­cuse for not hav­ing peace­ful re­la­tions with its neigh­bours. In spite of peace­ful over­tures, this is a coun­try that has flatly re­jected the Arab Peace Plan pro­posed by the late King Ab­dul­lah Bin Ab­dul Aziz back in 2002, which would have al­lowed full diplo­matic recog­ni­tion by all Arab coun­tries. In­stead, Is­rael chose to re­main on its course of ter­ror­is­ing and elim­i­nat­ing its Pales­tinian sub­jects.

From state-spon­sored killings of un­armed and help­less Pales­tini­ans to il­le­gal an­nex­a­tion of their lands, such ac­tiv­i­ties have not gone down well with their Arab neigh­bours and cer­tainly not with Saudis. It is also a well-known fact that quite a few Is­raeli ath­letes had pre­vi­ously been mem­bers of the so-called Is­rael De­fence Forces — a band of Is­raeli thugs that shoots to kill, their re­cent tar­gets be­ing pri­mar­ily women and chil­dren.

King Sal­man of Saudi Ara­bia, has cat­e­gor­i­cally stated that the Arab world is not go­ing to ac­cept Is­rael as a re­gional part­ner as long as its cur­rent poli­cies con­tinue. King Sal­man has on many oc­ca­sions re­it­er­ated the King­dom’s stead­fast po­si­tion on the Pales­tinian cause and the le­git­i­mate rights of the Pales­tinian peo­ple to es­tab­lish their in­de­pen­dent state with Jerusalem as its cap­i­tal. As the Cus­to­dian of the two Holy Mosques, Saudi Ara­bia bears the weight of the Mus­lim world and this form of com­mit­ment is nec­es­sary to ward off grand Zion­ist de­signs for the re­gion.

King Sal­man of Saudi Ara­bia, has cat­e­gor­i­cally stated that the Arab world is not go­ing to ac­cept Is­rael as a re­gional part­ner as long as its cur­rent poli­cies con­tinue.

Lost lives

While the Is­raelis try to fault the Saudis for hu­man rights abuses, they con­tinue to con­ceal their own mas­sive and im­mea­sur­able abuses of hu­man rights and lost lives of law­ful res­i­dents of the land — the Pales­tini­ans — abuses that have now stretched for more than seven decades.

And so, if the Saudis do not feel like wel­com­ing Is­raelis on their lands, they are per­fectly right in do­ing so. Saudis will not ac­cept any Is­raeli on their soil as long as the cur­rent Is­raeli apartheid regime con­tin­ues its prac­tices of vi­o­lat­ing ev­ery right, civil, hu­man or other­wise of the Pales­tini­ans.

Not host­ing a chess tour­na­ment with Is­raeli par­tic­i­pants is a state­ment of our res­o­lu­tion for a free Pales­tine.

■ Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi so­cio-po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor. He lives in Jed­dah, Saudi Ara­bia. Twit­ter: @tal­maeena.

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