Powered by WebAds

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Wall Street Journal does the right thing

In an editorial this morning, the Wall Street Journal rakes the government of Dubai over the coals for refusing a visa to Israeli tennis star Shahar Pe'er.
Dubai already forbids Israeli passport holders from setting foot on its soil. Which gives the lie to the emirate's excuse [concern for her 'safety' CiJ]for excluding Israel's Shahar Pe'er, currently ranked 45 in the world, from competing in next week's Barclay's Dubai Tennis Championships. In another twist, the tournament's director added that Ms. Pe'er's presence on the court might have "antagonized our fans." We used to feel that way about John McEnroe, but that didn't stop us from watching.

Happily, the Lords of Tennis seem to be having none of it. Larry Scott, chief executive of the World Tennis Association, plans to weigh sanctions against Dubai, including excluding it altogether from its tournament calendar. And Ken Solomon of the American Tennis Channel has decided not to televise the games. "Sports are about merit, absent of background, class, race, creed, color or religion," he told the New York Times. "This is an easy decision to come by, based on what is right and wrong."

Just so. Meantime, Dubai may wish to reconsider not only Ms. Pe'er's visa, but its attitude generally toward Israel. A city-state that fancies itself a global mecca for commerce, sport and recreation ought to be able to handle a few Jews in its cosmopolitan midst.
The Journal has put its money where its mouth is: It has withdrawn sponsorship of the tournament.
"The Wall Street Journal's editorial philosophy is free markets and free people, and this action runs counter to the Journal's editorial direction," the Journal Europe said in a statement.

It added that it was also withdrawing its sponsorship of the men's tournament beginning next week.
Good for them.

Writing in this morning's JPost, Michael Freund calls on the Women's Tennis Association to cancel the tournament altogether.
Labeling Dubai's decision "regrettable", Scott issued a tepid statement to the media, whimpering that, "The Tour is reviewing appropriate remedies for Ms. Peer and also will review appropriate future actions with regard to the future of the Dubai tournament." We all know what that means: not very much.

Indeed, what is truly "regrettable" is that both the WTA and the players themselves did not put principle before prize money. Dubai essentially hung a large "No Jews Allowed" sign over center court, but that didn't seem to bother anyone enough to cancel the tournament.

As criticism mounted over the decision, Scott changed his tone somewhat, telling the Associated Press that the WTA will consider "what types of sanctions are going to be deemed to be appropriate in light of what has happened, including whether or not the tournament has a slot on the calendar next year." This, he added, could mean its future cancellation. But it's a shame he didn't take that step this time around, in order to send a clear-cut message to Dubai that their actions are unacceptable.
And Freund argues that there's much more at stake here than mixing sports and politics.
Dubai's unsavory decision to block an Israeli tennis player is far more than just an issue of mixing politics with sports. The fact is that it is symptomatic of a larger problem, which is much of the Arab world's lingering hatred and rejection of Israel.

It underlines the extent to which numerous Arab states seek to undermine Israel's legitimacy and existence by negating any contact - even across a tennis net! - with the Jewish state.

WHILE MUCH has been written in recent years about the waning of the once-potent Arab economic and trade embargo against Israel, the Dubai debacle is a compelling reminder that the boycott is still very much a factor.

Just two months ago, as required by law, the US Treasury Department published its quarterly list of countries that actively enforce the Arab boycott against Israel. The inventory included eight Arab regimes: Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

A ninth country, Iraq, was said to be "under review by the Department of the Treasury" with regard to its anti-Israel practices.

While the situation is clearly better than it was, say, three decades ago, when virtually the entire Arab world was off-limits to Israelis, no one should fool themselves into thinking that the boycott is entirely a thing of the past.
Unfortunately, while the other players are sympathetic to Pe'er, they will not boycott the tournament, which means that unless the WTA cancels it, the tournament will go on.

Meanwhile, the Hopenchange administration, which has made outreach to the Arab world a centerpiece of its foreign policy, remains silent. Given that participating in it is illegal in the United States, shouldn't dropping the Arab boycott be a condition to American renewal of trade with Syria? Shouldn't American allies like Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE finally be pressured to drop the boycott?

Read the whole thing.

By the way, there's no word yet on whether Andy Ram, a male Israeli player who is scheduled to participate in the tournament will receive a visa to travel to Dubai. It's likely that his request will also be denied.


For those of you who would like to give the other tournament sponsors - ahem - a piece of your mind, you can find a list of them here (Hat Tip: Palladin via Little Green Footballs)


At 4:13 PM, Blogger Dinah Lord said...

Sanctions schmanctions.

The WTA should pull the tournament.

The players who are willing to participate after Dubai said No Jews Allowed should be ashamed of themselves.

With all of Obama's foreign relation czars (and their multitude of minions)- you'd think somebody would be saying something about this!

You'd think.

At 4:43 PM, Blogger RhinoJack said...

Jews are allowed into Dubai - Larry Scott is Jewish. One can't enter on an Israeli passport, but can on another passport.
But why go there anyway?

At 7:32 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Why would any Israeli - or Jew - feed those who hate them? Is there no minimal respect that one must humiliate oneself in front of those who want to see Israel disappear?

They're not fit to represent that Jewish people on the world stage!

At 7:54 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


I suspect in addition to not being able to enter on an Israeli passport, one also cannot enter on the passport of another country that has an Israeli entry visa in it. The US actually issues second passports to people for whom it's an issue.

Dinah Lord,

You're right, but when it comes to the players, you're probably expecting too much from people who may not be the brightest intellectual lights in the gallery.

The Hopenchange administration is a different story, and yes, they should be saying something. But don't hold your breath too long waiting for them.

At 12:12 PM, Blogger Ivan said...

Even if the Dubai government were to grant the Israelis visas it is not going to change the fact that the attitude of the masses is much worse. Jews in general must get over the fantasy that anything they do is going to ingratiate them to the Muslim masses. There is simply so much hatred out there to be harnessed by the Jew- bashers for them to give it up. I say this as a long time observer of the phenomena in my corner of South East Asia.


Post a Comment

<< Home