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Lebanon: chess player refuses to face Israeli opponent 

August 24, 2022 at 4:52 pm

Participants attend the King Salman World Rapid and Blitz Championships, the first international chess competition held in Saudi Arabia, in the capital Riyadh on December 26, 2017 [STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images]

A junior Lebanese chess player has withdrawn from an international festival in the United Arab Emirates to avoid playing against an Israeli opponent.

Nadia Fawaz refused to face Israeli Elijah Grosman in the fourth round of the 28th Abu Dhabi International Chess Festival after winning her matches against Brunei’s Wafa Yacoub, Saudi Arabia’s Ziad Saleh Abdali and the UAE’s Wafia Darwish Al-Maamari.

According to the head of the Lebanese Chess Federation, Khaled Bdeih, Fawaz made the decision as an act of solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people. She also felt the need to criticise those Arab countries which have normalised their relations with the occupation state of Israel.

Israel is often accused of using its presence in international sports and cultural events as a means of “sportswashing” its human rights violations. Aside from being accused by international human rights groups Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem of imposing a system of apartheid on the Palestinians, Israel is known to treat international law with contempt. Apartheid is akin to a crime against humanity.

Other Arab athletes have taken similar public stances against the normalisation of relations with the occupation state. Earlier this month, for example, two Iraqi wheelchair tennis players withdrew from an international tournament in Romania to avoid playing against an Israeli opponent. In January, 14-year-old Kuwaiti tennis player Muhammad Al-Awadi withdrew from the Dubai Tennis Championships after he was scheduled to face an Israeli player.

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