The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has condemned the denial of entry to Dubai for Israeli tennis player, Shahar Pe’er, who was to compete in next week’s Barclay’s Dubai Tennis Championships. Dubai does not permit Israeli citizens to set foot on Dubai‘s soil.
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), the governing body of women’s professional tennis, forbids a host country from denying a player the right to compete. Its rules require that all players should be able to compete where they wish if they have the required ranking. However, the WTA’s chief executive, Larry Scott, surrendered to Dubai’s decision to exclude Pe’er, merely describing Dubai’s decision as “regrettable” and adding 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” (‘Statement from Larry Scott Re: Peer Visa Denial,’ Sony-Ericsson WTA Tour, February 17, 2009).
WTA has not reversed the decision to continue with the tournament, but only indicated that it “plans to weigh sanctions against Dubai, including excluding it altogether from its tournament calendar.” In contrast, Ken Solomon of the American Tennis Channel has decided not to televise the games, saying, “Sports are about merit, absent of background, class, race, creed, color or religion … This is an easy decision to come by, based on what is right and wrong” (Editorial, ‘Dubai Double Fault,’ February 18, 2009).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein and National Chairman of the Board Dr. Michael Goldblatt said, “Dubai‘s infamous action in banning an Israeli player is symptomatic of the Arab world’s continuing rejection and hatred of the Jewish state of Israel. It is but another indication of the fact that the Arab world does not accept Israel, contrary to the propaganda campaign implicit in the cynical production known as the Arab Peace Initiative, which we have analyzed elsewhere.
“We are concerned that neither President Obama nor Secretary of State Clinton has made any public statement of condemnation of Dubai‘s infamous act in targeting a Jewish player for exclusion.
“We note that the Dubai tournament’s director defended the exclusion of Pe’er on the astonishing grounds that Pe’er’s presence on center court could have, ‘antagonized our fans.’ The racism and extremism that apparently permeates Dubai is an unacceptable reason for barring entry to an Israeli citizen, just as it would be wholly unacceptable for any country to bar entry to a player who was black.
“The ZOA calls upon the Obama Administration to condemn this infamous, discriminatory act by Dubai. We call upon owners of all major sports teams in all major sports to publicly condemn this act of discrimination and call for a boycott of the Tennis Tournament. And we call upon the WTA to reverse its wrong and unprincipled decision to continue with the tournament rather than standing by a player isolated for discriminatory treatment, contrary to WTA’s own rules.”