Not the Onion: Israeli Judo Federation Thanks UAE Counterparts for Their Hospitality

It would be fair to say we have seen some of the most unsportsmanlike conduct ever at the judo Grand Slam event in Abu Dhabi: organizers refusing to allow Israel to compete under “Israel” or under the Israeli flag but rather under the IJF; refusing to play the Israeli national anthem when Israeli competitors won a gold medal; and judokas from Arab and Muslim countries refusing to shake hands with their Israeli opponents after a bout.

Yet despite this, the Israeli Judo Federation president has thanked his UAE for the hospitality shown. I wish I was kidding. And the International Judo Federation has proudly posted about it on their Facebook page, with some photo opp pictures.

Following the final day of competition, the Israel Judo Association President Mr. Moshe PONTE wished to thank his U.A.E counterpart, His Excellency Mohammad Bin Thaloub AL DAREI, for the hospitality that was shown to the Israel team in Abu Dhabi who won five medals.

Mr. VIZER declared: “It was a gesture of courage, on #WorldJudoDay the President of the U.A.E Judo Federation President, His Excellency Mohammad Bin Thaloub AL DAREI, and Mr. Aref AL-AWANI, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC), apologised because of the U.A.E athletes not shaking hands with the Israel athletes and also congratulated the Israel team for their success here.

“Sometimes with courage, respect and politeness, you can solve tensions and conflicts, which have not been solved since many decades. I consider, that even without the flag and anthem of Israel, that their team have been treated very well with high respect during this event. Two years ago we achieved the first participation of Israel team in Abu Dhabi, now it’s the second time, but with a much better approach and I hope in the near future we can achieve the best condition of participation for the Israel teams.

“Such delicate issues between countries, governments and nations cannot be solved overnight and cannot be solved through the sport immediately.

“In the last years the IJF has made a lot of work and important steps for the participation and recognition of the Israeli team in countries like Morocco and Emirates and I hope soon we can break down more barriers for more tolerance between countries and nations to express the real value of the sport, friendship unity and solidarity.”

I am disgusted with this capitulation, that will likely guarantee the UAE is not penalized for their disgraceful conduct.

Not that I had high hopes of this happening, given the IJF has been complicit in it – despite their demand that the UAE treat Israel equally.

I assume this is indicative of just how much Israel wants peace and good relations with the Arab and Muslim world. But we really need to stop showing weakness – and I am not just talking about in the world of Judo.


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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