The ADL Motto: If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it!
Dubai's unfortunate decision By Abe Foxman of the Arab Defamtion League
What is it these European Jews want of the Arab world? We just witnessed Jewry's fireworks from the sky where they slaughtered hundreds of innocent Arabs. It has not been a month yet when Palestinians buried their dead by the hundreds, and here the killers are complaining that an Arab country did not allow a Jew to enter an Arab country? Am I missing something here?
"The decision by the United Arab Emirates not to grant a visa to Israeli tennis star Shahar Peer is a shocking development which raises broader questions about the progress that has been assumed to have been made in Arab-Israel relations."
Thursday Feb 19, 2009
A Point of View: Dubai's unfortunate decision
The decision by the United Arab Emirates not to grant a visa to Israeli tennis star Shahar Peer is a shocking development which raises broader questions about the progress that has been assumed to have been made in Arab-Israel relations.
The decision is shocking because of its source. Let's remember that Peer played last year in a Women's Tennis Association tournament in Doha, Qatar, and spoke openly about how warmly she was received. Dubai, the home of the current event, is a place that has cultivated an image of openness to the world. Nowhere was this more evident than in past years' television coverage of the event, with pictures of mini-skirted ball girls running around the court while traditionally robed Sheikhs sat in attendance.
It was heartening that Peer's fellow professionals, such as Venus Williams and Ana Ivanovic, rallied round on her behalf and condemned the UAE decision as unjustly mixing politics and sport. The Tennis Channel cancelled its coverage of the event, and Larry Scott, Chairman and CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, indicated that the WTA would reconsider the Dubai venue if such an incident were to be repeated.
The broader issue for Israel and its supporters abroad is whether this incident should lead to any reassessment of Israel's approach to relations with the Arab world. The predominant view has been that while the Arabs have still not accepted Israel's legitimacy in the region as an independent Jewish state, there has been much progress on a practical level: Many Arab countries believe Israel is here to stay, and because of that try figure out how to reflect that in their relationships. All kinds of quiet meetings and business deals take place. And the general belief is that while full legitimacy for the Jewish State is the ultimate goal, the practical belief that has suffused the Arab world of Israel's permanence opens all kinds of possibilities, including peace treaties.
Indeed, when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rails over and over again about how Israel will not exist in 10 or 20 years, he is trying to fight a rear-guard action against this trend of accepting the reality, if not the legitimacy, of Israel.
The rejection of Peer, however, should raise questions about the sufficiency of a pragmatic approach as opposed to demanding full legitimacy for Israel.
When relations are limited to pragmatism, the whims of the mood of a given time can take over: If residents of the Persian Gulf are unhappy with Israel over Gaza, let's show them what we think of them by boycotting their tennis star. The absence of full acceptance of Israel opens the way to all kinds of distortions and abominations of which the Peer incident is but one.
I would argue that the widespread teaching of hatred of Israel and Jews in Arab texts and media is a reflection of the insufficiency of the pragmatic approach. And even the cold peace with Egypt, though there is a full peace treaty between the countries, is a reflection of the absence of a true sense by Egypt of the legitimacy of the Zionist initiative in Israel.
Having said this, full legitimacy for Israel in the Arab world is a long way off. And while the pragmatic approach has severe shortcomings, as we have seen, it is the best thing we have going for us. We must build on it. It still offers the best chance for peace based on the idea that if Israel is here to stay, then maybe the Arab world has to come to terms with that reality, even if they don't like it.
So let's continue on the pragmatic path, even with its shortcomings. At the same time, let's make clear that only with the full acceptance of the Jewish state will true peace come to Arabs and Jews.
Meanwhile, when disturbing developments like the Peer boycott occur, they will require a strong response from the Jewish world, as well as principled responses from the outside.
In this instance the Anti-Defamation League, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and others quickly issued strong statements condemning Dubai's decision. I called on the leadership of the WTA to work with Dubai on resolving the issue, and if no solution could be found, urged the organization to consider an appropriate response to this violation of its rules, including removing the Dubai Tennis Championship from its 2010 tour.
The WTA's response was laudable. In a statement, Larry Scott, the chairman, indicated that the tour "... believes very strongly, and has a clear rule and policy, that no host country should deny a player the right to compete at a tournament for which she has qualified by ranking." He said the WTA would review appropriate remedies for Ms. Peer and also would consider appropriate future actions "with regard to the future of the Dubai tournament."
The WTA was joined by The Wall Street Journal Europe, the Tennis Channel and others, all of whom made it clear that there is a price to be paid for acts of discrimination against Israel and its citizens.