Saturday, February 21, 2009

On tennis and politics

I guess everyone in the world has heard about Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer being denied entry into the UAE...and the UAE's cowardly decision to grand another Israeli player, Andy Ram, a visa to participate in the Barclay's tennis tournament next week. Because let's face it, as soon as an Israeli's "rights" are being violated, the world's media goes into a frenzy to make sure everyone hears about it.

When I first heard about Peer being denied entry, I was not surprised. It makes perfect sense to me given that a lot of Arabs who do not have dual nationality are unable to enter Israel. An Emarati citizen for example, could never set foot in Israel, so why should an Israeli be able to come here?

But at the same time, deep down, I was waiting to see how the government would react to the pressure that was being put by the Women's Tennis Association, with threats of canceling the tournament next year, and with the media going into a frenzy about this whole thing.

And of course, they caved. They caved under the pressure and granted Andy Ram a visa.

Which begs the question: why the double standards? Why not stick to your decision and live by it?

I find it absolutely hilarious (for lack of a better word) that just last month, Sheikh Mohammed's Dubai Cares organized a massive drive to help Gazans following the ethnic cleansing spree Israel conducted...and now, less than a month later, Dubai is granting a visa to an Israeli tennis player.

Which begs another question: would an Emarati football player for example be able to get into Israel to play a football match? For some reason, I find that possibility highly unlikely...

Yes, this post may seem harsh, and biased to some, but it's coming from a very personal place. A place where my elderly aunt who lives here in the UAE, and who only has a Lebanese passport, is unable to see her 2 sisters who live in Israel, for the pure and simple reason that she has a Lebanese passport, and they have Israeli passports.

It comes from a place where my siblings and I did not get to meet our cousins and aunts who live in Israel, until we got our Canadian passports...because that was the only way for us to visit the land where my father was born, the land where his father and mother lived and raised them, the land where he went to school, the land where my father formed his earliest memories.

In a way, I hope that the tennis tournament will be canceled next year...Maybe it'll serve as a lesson to all those involved...A lesson on how to stand up for what's right...