7 year old can’t compete in chess championship because Tunisia prohibits Israeli players

July 22, 2018 • 1:00 pm

If you think Israel is an “apartheid state,” then what is Tunisia? For that country has just banned a 7 year old schoolgirl and chess champion, Liel Levitan, from competing in an International Chess Championship (presumably the competition for juniors), because she’s Israeli. And her dream is to become a world champion.

“Just a few months ago, a World Chess Championship was due to take place in Saudi Arabia,” chess player Lior Aizenberg told Hadashot news. “It was clear to everyone that outstanding Israeli chess players would not be able to participate.”

Aizenberg has instead founded the World Alternative Championship, which takes place in Israel and extends competition invitations to players from across Europe and the Arab world.

Liel has also been invited to compete at the competition, which counts outgoing chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky and American pro-Israel group Stand With Us among its supporters.

“The time has come to put an end to discrimination against Israelis in chess, in sports and in every field,” said Aizenberg.

The International Judo Federation on Friday stripped the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia from hosting two international tournaments due to their failure to guarantee equal treatment of Israeli athletes.

The decision to suspend the tournaments came after organizers at last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Slam refused to acknowledge the nationality of the Israeli athletes — a policy directed only at Israeli participants.

Yep, the Saudis won’t allow Israeli athletes to compete on the adult level, either. What the hell is up with FIDE, the International Chess Federation? They shouldn’t allow any competitions in countries that ban players on the basis of their nationality. And the fact that Israel is hosting a World Alternative Championship open to all, regardless of nationality, shows the mendacity of those who call Israel an “apartheid state.” Can there be any explanation for such banning except anti-Semitism? Why aren’t Saudi players banned, since that country is far more oppressive than Israel? Can North Koreans play in Tunisia? Maybe there aren’t players from the DPRK, but I bet they’d be allowed to compete. It all stinks to high heaven.

Liel Levitan, banned from Tunisia

h/t: Orli

71 thoughts on “7 year old can’t compete in chess championship because Tunisia prohibits Israeli players

      1. Aren’t you aware that racism is defined, these days, as something practised exclusively by white Europeans and Americans, and by Israelis? Discrimination against Israelis (and Jews) is referred to in the Muslim world as “Resistance”. Accusing a Muslim country of racism or antisemitism because of these practices is called “Islamophobia”. And here in the enlightened West, any defense whatsoever of the country of the kibbutz movement, the Histadrut labour confederation, and one of the founding units of the International Working Union of Socialist Parties, is conventionally labelled “right-wing”. Any regular NPR listener could explain these definitions to you.

  1. FIDE has been a joke for a long time, certainly since Florencio Campomanes became president.
    It was during Campomanes’ presidency that many international chess players broke away and started their own world championship.
    The guy was also a good friend of former Philippine president Marcos.

    1. Yep. Adult Israelis have been banned from FIDE events in Tunisia too. It is shocking to me that FIDE continues to hold events in countries that discriminate against women and Israelis.

      I suspect this is like the soccer, where countries pay bribes to get events in their country. The circumstantial evidence is certainly strongly against a past NZ soccer official, and the case started under Obama’s Justice Department is ongoing I assume.

  2. I remember when Pakistan Tennis threatened to ban one of their players from their Davis Cup team because he played doubles with a Israeli on the tour. The tennis authorities stepped up and threatened to ban Pakistan from the Davis Cup. FIDE should do something similar. btw – Pakistan backed down.

  3. Well I f Israel stopped committing atrocities in Palestine and gave them there illegally occupied land back then maybe this would not be happening.

    1. And maybe if the Palestinians stopped teaching hatred of Jews to their schoolchildren and stopped killing Israelis civilians they’d get their own state. I cannot believe that someone blames the banning of this child on your manufactured excuses. I notice you don’t have any harsh words about North Korea or any other regime that’s more oppressive than you think Israel is, and those regimes include Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, and so on and so on.

      1. “They’d get their own state?” Just imagine someone coming to your home claiming that it was once inhabited by their ancestors centuries back and throw you out of it and say, “behave and you shall be allowed to live in the garage”. I wonder if you would feel the same way about Israel and Palestine.
        And no, just to be clear, I’m no pro North Korea or pro Saudi or pro anything. It is an opinion by an individual.
        Also, when Apartheid was active and legal in South Africa, the world did ban South Africa from participating in International sporting events. If that’s just, this should be too.
        It is not just about a little girl being denied of an opportunity. It is about all those people being denied of a decent life just because they choose to fight someone powerful who stole their land and life from them.
        By the way, I’m not pro muslim or pro anything. I just think that this time, the Israelis are not victims but the other party is.

        1. Stole their land? Do you know anything about the history of Israel? And Israel isn’t even close to having apartheid as South Africa. In fact, Palestine and many Middle Eastern countries are the apartheid states, banning Jews, atheist, gays, and brutallyo repressing women. You’ve simply absorbed the talking points of the regressive Left without knowing anything about history. At least learn how the State of Israel was founded.

          1. The Jewish claim to that particular plot of land was sketchy to say the least. It seems to be based on a promise given in a book by a god that almost certainly does not exist.

            I think it was a mistake by the British to create the modern state of Israel, but it’s there now and we can’t go back. Also, whatever the rights and wrongs of the things done in the 1940’s they were not done by modern Israelis, especially not seven year old girls.

            1. Is it really only the alleged promise of an imaginaty being which is the basis of Jewish claim to this piece of land? What about real, not imaginary history of the existence of Jewish state on this territory, with copious evidence in both written documentation from the time of the existence of this state and eqally copious archeological artefacts? What about efforts – through the centuries – of Jews to return to their homeland from which they were expelled time and time again? And what about the fact that from the time of the destruction of the Jewish state there to the establishment of modern Israel this land was always a province of one empire or another one and never an independent state, Arab or otherwise. Why drag the imaginary god into it at all? Because most people reading WEIT are atheists and (rightly) laugh at the “god” argument, so you can dismiss Jewishness of this land out of hand?

              1. A Jewish state existed there for a couple of brief periods from the time of the end of the Exile until Alexander conquered it and from the Maccabean revolt until the Romans took control. Prior to the exile, there was a Hebrew state there for several hundred years, but I’m not sure it is correct to say it was Jewish as such.

                All of these events happened thousands of years ago We don’t pay heed to who owned the land two thousand years ago most of the time. Otherwise (for example) I would have to give up my home to the Welsh because they basically owned all of England up until the Saxons took it away.

                The descendants of most disposed peoples just have to put up with it. What makes the descendants of the people who used to live in Judea 2,000 years ago special in this regard?

          2. I can second that. Living in South Africa I can solemny assure you that Israel is not an Apartheid State.
            Just as an example, in Israel all Israeli nationals, whether Palestinian (quite a few of them) have the right to vote and are officially considered as equal before the law.

    2. You seem to have swallowed Arab/Sovjet propaganda hook, line and sinker. Try to get some facts.

        1. I agree no one is immune to criticism, including Israel. But it also includes groups like Human Rights Watch. For example consider this bit from your link;

          “Israel continued to maintain its decade-long effective closure of Gaza, exacerbated by Egypt’s keeping its own border with Gaza largely sealed, and to impose restrictions that limit supply of electricity and water, restrict access to medical care and educational and economic opportunity, and perpetuate poverty. Approximately 70 percent of Gaza’s 1.9 million people rely on humanitarian assistance.”

          Did you see that? See that part about how they blame all restrictions in Gaza on the “supply of electricity and water, (and) access to medical care and educational and economic opportunity, and perpetuate poverty” on Israel? Did you see that? That sentence was right after this one;“…exacerbated by Egypt’s keeping its own border with Gaza largely sealed”.

          Evidently, HRW thinks the people who read this are idiots and won’t notice.

      1. So creating, as Israel did this week, an apartheid state is OK because the Palestinians/Arabs hate them? Large part of Israeli didn’t support that, though. Also, it’s wrong to ban people based on nationalities. However, criticism of Israel, and any other country, is a must and not part of antisemitism

        1. I don’t think anyone here is saying criticism of Israel is itself antisemitism. The article was about banning (child)chess players from a tournament because they are Israeli. That *is* antisemitism.

          1. In theory, criticism of Israel does not need to be antisemitism, but my long-time impression is that about 99% of the time it is, including in this thread.

  4. Well, that is a totally immature and crappy thing to do. But I can hope that the reports coming out about this and about the other incidents will finally bring to a halt the discrimination against Israeli competitors. Either by the Arab countries reversing themselves, or by not allowing them to host events.

    I for one would consider it an honor to have this little girl clobber me in a game of chess. I don’t think it would take her very long.

    1. This post is about a 7-year old girl forbidden to take part in the tournament because of her nationality. Not about what country Israel is. But if you go in this direction I would like to quote another opinion about this new legislation, by a renowned expert in international law, Professor Eugene Kontorovich:

      “In reality, Israel’s Basic Law would not be out of place among the liberal democratic constitutions of Europe—which include similar provisions that have not aroused controversy. The law does not infringe on the individual rights of any Israeli citizen, including Arabs; nor does it create individual privileges. The illiberalism here lies with the law’s critics, who would deny the Jewish state the freedom to legislate like a normal country.” https://www.wsj.com/articles/get-over-itisrael-is-the-jewish-state-1532039000

      1. So you are not interested in the underlying causes and behaviours that lead up to nonsense like seven-year-olds not being allowed to compete in chess tournaments?

        1. That would be a no. What could you possibly be saying that was not already know. This 7 year old did not do anything and that is what counts. That is the point, nothing else.

      2. So creating, as Israel did this week, an apartheid state is OK because the Palestinians/Arabs hate them? Large part of Israeli didn’t support that, though. Also, it’s wrong to ban people based on nationalities. However, criticism of Israel, and any other country, is a must and not part of antisemitism

        1. Apartheid state, as in segregation based on race, sex, or religion. That isn’t what Israel did. They haven expelled Arabs or removed them from the Knesset or curtailed their rights. However it is a fairly good description of every Muslim majority county.

          1. “However it is a fairly good description of every Muslim majority county.”

            All of which are allowed to compete in Tunisia. Strange…

          2. At this point, “apartheid state” has become a stupid meme among a certain group of people who seem to have no idea what the word means. They’ve just seen it written by other people criticizing Israel and think it sounds like a damning description.

            1. BJ — OT, but go see Three Identical Strangers. I just got back from the theater, and it’s the best doc I’ve seen this year (and I’ve seen some good ones, including RBG and Bombshell and Won’t You Be My Neighbor).

          3. The comment was on Israel, so why you’re trying to link the discussion as a comparidon to its neighbors. The law has created a the facto type of second class citizens, and was/is opposed by Jews and Israelies alike. I though that in this blog we oppose theocracies, independently of if it’s xtian/muslin /jew/others based.

            1. It’s definitely true that most on this web page oppose theocracies. It’s one of the biggest points of the place. I’ll tell you another thing many people who frequent WEIT get snarly about – sweeping, loaded rhetoric with the aim of obfuscation and misdirection, especially if it’s wildly wrong. Like this; “So creating, as Israel did this week, an apartheid state is OK because the Palestinians/Arabs hate them?”

              1. You are picking on an answer to a previous one. It’s not ok to object to bad laws in the only democratic, till now, state in the ME? How come the only answer is, ” the Arabs hate the jews”, to place the discussion in a different plane?

  5. It’s bad enough that this happens in the adult game, but to use children as political pawns is completely unacceptable. Wtf does Tunisia expect a 7-year-old to do about the situation?

  6. If you think Israel is an “apartheid state” …

    I would certainly never call it that, but it will become one — or it will cease to be a “Jewish state” — unless a two-state solution can be achieved (which, horribile dictu, has never seemed more distant a goal than it does right now).

    1. A two state solution is a pipe dream as long as Palestinians are unwilling to accept Israel’s right to exist.
      The Hamas charter makes that unlikely.

      1. An apologizing for the current Israeli government does the same. There are extremists in both sides. Lamentable, but Israel is approaching a point of no return on been an apartheid state with BN at the helm.

      2. Doesn’t help when the current US administration appoints an ambassador to Israel who calls fellow Jews who support a two-state solution “worse than kapos” who collaborated with the Nazis, or postures purposelessly by opening an embassy in Jerusalem, or panders to the Christian Right’s apocalyptic eschatology.

        1. FFS. Every single day -every damn one- I learn something new and deeply nasty about the Trump administration.

  7. This is a reply to all who tried here to justify or at least “understand” why a 7-year old was barred from taking part in an international tournament because of her nationality:

    The world is full of states which are theocracies, tyrannies, which occupy others’ territories, persecute minorities, executes own citizens etc. It is rather given that if a 7-year old from any of such countries experienced something similar the thought of writing a comment about the awfulness of the coutry this child was from would not even cross the mind of any of you. Only the name “Israel” avokes a Pavlovian reflex: “I have to say something bad about this country”.

    1. What if that something is the truth?

      Yes what happened to that girl is silly and petty. But in the great scheme of things a girl not being able to go to a chess tournament? I am sorry I cannot work myself up into a lather about it. I can’t bring myself to a lather about Israel building 2500 homes in the disputed West Bank either. Though I am fully aware there will be consequences to both these actions.

      I have not seen anyone condoning the ban of the little girl. And I suspect every nation has dark moments in its history.

      My ancestors left Africa some 60000 to 100000 years ago. They wandered around a bit and ended up recently in the Baltic. Through the wonders of modern travel I have lived in England, South Arica and now Canada. My point? In some ways all this nationhood business is a nonsense. What is the best way to ameliorate the effects of this nonsense?

      Should we not shine a light on that darkness?

      1. Please notice that you and the whole world, it seems, are always starting with looking for the darkness in Israel (so it is now, before II WW everybody was looking for darkness among Jews first).
        We all come from Africa and still after 60 to 100,000 years humanity is divided in smaller groups, from clans to nations. The world is full of nations but none of them gives rise to such ire as Jewish nation. I absolutely agree that the world without nations, classes, borders sounds absolutely beautiful. Until you realize that this is an utopia and that everywhere it was tried mountains of corpses got only bigger and bigger. As it is people would love for Israel to stop being a refuge for Jews, renounce their idea of having a Jewish state where Jews for the first time in 2000 years are independent and do not have to rely on the mercy of their host countries; but the surrounding Arab states can remain Arab and spew hatred towards Jews. After all, they expelled or forced to flee almost a milion Jews who lived in Arab countries for millenia, long before the rise of Islam. And Palestinians should have the right to stipulate that Jews would not be allowed at all into their future countries.
        Yes, Israel is building houses on disputed territories. Palestianins do exactly the same – there are whole neighbourhoods build by Palestinians on disputed territories but you probably never heard about it. Populations of both Israelis and Palestinians are growing and they have to live somewhere. BTW, quite a lot of Israel Arabs live in houses built on disputed territories but that’s OK, they are not called „settlers” neither by Arabs nor Western media.

        1. My point remains … nationhood is a nonsense. I fully realize that having a utopia is a pipe dream. I was not even advocating for this utopia. I understand all too well the desire for a nation … to keep a culture and language alive. The question becomes how do we go about achieving our ends.

          Sure there are people who argue Israel should not have a nation. I am not one of them. But I can and will if prompted criticize how Israelis go about achieving that end.

          I agree those that spew hatred have succumb to the same illusions that many if not all of have, but to a much more dangerous degree.

          How do we respond to this hatred? Well as you may well know, “eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth” is not meant to be taken literally. It is meant to caution us to have a measured response.

          And exactly how have I said anything the Israelis are doing is “bad”?

          Dien Dobri

          1. You wrote that Israel is a theocracy. It’s not. The religious mafia has definitely too much influence there but it is not theocracy. Saudi Arabia is, Iran is, and many other countries are theocracies, but not Israel and not Poland (in spite that the religious mafia of a different variety has way too much influence on Polish politics). And in a world consisting of nations to start dismantling this with Jews… Well, look at the constitution of Spain (which has substantial minorities), Slovenia and many other European countries. Formulation in this new Israeli law does not differ, except that for “Spanish nation” or “Slovenian nation” there is “Jewish nation”. So why start the attack on concept of “nation” with Israel?

            1. Israeli nation? Not a problem.

              That would include those of Arabic descent and people of different faiths, even no faith.

              1. There is a quite profound semantic problem. The concept of “nation” is different in Europe and in Great Britain, U.S. or Canada. The European meaning of the word is seen sometimes even “over there”, like in Canadian “First Nation”. Literature about the differences is huge. Of what you wrote I can conclude that you use the word “nation” in European meaning of “society”: Polish society consists of Polish citizens of all etnicities, religions and creeds, Israeli society encompasses all Israeli citizens: Jews, Arabs, Druze etc., Canadian First Nation is a part of Canadian society. But nation in the European (non-English) meaning is closer to „people” (though there is a difference there as well) – English people, Scottish, people, Welsh people. Israelis are using the world „nation” in the European meaning: a group of people mainly of the common etnicity, language, culture, history. Jews, because of their peculiar history – the only ancient people (or nation in European meaning), expelled from their homeland 2000 years ago which didn’t dissolve among other peoples/nations but retained the basic common culture and language and the feeling of peoplehood/nationhood (well, the other one is Roma people, but they don’t know where their original homeland was) – and the centuries long rejection and persecution by their host nations have a great need to be open to the members of their nation which can need a safe haven any time (like French Jews just now and possibly British Jews if Jeremy Corbyn moves into Downing Street).

  8. Is it not obvious, even to the antisemites on this list, that the real reason that this little Israeli girl was barred from competing is that she’d easily beat 70-year-old Tunisian grandmasters?

  9. If that tournament is sponsored or in any way validated by an international body like FIDE, they need to remove Tunisia, Turkey, and any other Islamist dominated shitholes from the list of countries eligible to host such a tournament. It is instructive that other international sports organizations have done something like that in the face of similarly blatant discrimination.

  10. It was disheartening for me to read about a little girl hurt by empowered adults, and then see a group of commenters explaining here that this is OK because Jews are bad people.

Leave a Reply