When Chess & Politics mix: The Israeli Boycott
Part III: ECU plays the ‘hate’ card
On the 23rd of March of this year the ECU (European Chess Union) held an extraordinary meeting in Skopje and one of its most important decisions was to unanimously pass a resolution against Israeli boycotts. (LINK)
On the face of it, this is a welcome initiative. If the intention is to pressure FIDE to finally get its act together and create a coherent policy on Israeli boycotts in line with the IOC policies, then this is indeed a positive development!
Doing the RIGHT thing for the WRONG reasons?
Appearances can be deceiving, however. The minutes of the discussion leading up to this resolution were not made public, but when the ECU Circular Letter was published later that month, some very disturbing and unacceptable rhetoric tarnished the resolution’s backers.
Branding a chess player’s actions of boycotting an Israeli opponent as ‘racial discrimination‘, a ‘message of hate‘ and a deliberate ‘promotion of hate policies‘ is going too far. This is scary rhetoric.
Especially, here in Europe, boycotting Israel–as a question of principle–is a politically and legally sanctioned right. It should NOT be automatically labelled as racial discrimination and hatred.
And most certainly a minor sports organization like the ECU does not get to decide otherwise for anyone or to speak on behalf of anyone.
Europe’s stand on boycotting Israel
“The EU stands firm in protecting freedom of expression and freedom of association in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which is applicable on EU Member States’ territory, including with regard to BDS actions carried out on this territory. Freedom of expression, as underlined by the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, is also applicable to information or ideas ‘that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population’. The EU rejects the BDS campaign’s attempts to isolate Israel and is opposed to any boycott of Israel.” —Federica Mogherini – High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice–President of the Commission. (LINK)
Also worth reading:
But what should the chess community do?
Of course, FIDE should not allow Israeli boycotts in its chess tournaments. While the line between sports and politics is often blurred by emotion and history, it is therefore that much more imperative that FIDE act with resolve and conviction and follow the IOC’s position on Israeli boycotts.