Matan Poleg (above left) and Omar Eltigani (right) were paired at the World Youth Chess Championships in South Africa last week. They played a game. Poleg won on the 45th move.
Outrage ensued. Denunciations were issued. The Sudanese media couldn’t even bring themselves to mention Matan Poleg’s name. The head of the Sudanese Chess Association resigned, offering grovelling apologies.
You already know the punchline to this, of course.
Poleg is an Israeli Jew. Eltigani is Sudanese. In the Muslim world, this is an unbearable outrage.
[a] top Sudanese religious official issued a scathing rebuke of the Sudanese government for not stopping Eltigani from playing, asserting that Sudan is in a state of war with the Jews and has a policy of not recognizing “the Zionist entity.” He said that competing against an Israeli player is tantamount to recognizing Israel and gives it legitimacy, according to Sudanese news site Al Nilin.
Two girls under age 10–one Israeli, one Algerian–were also matched, and were also forbidden to play:
An Israeli Arab girl was paired against an Algerian girl and the Algerian girl was not allowed to play the match, he said. The girls, who conversed in Arabic, were each awarded a point even though the match wasn’t played, he said.
Good ole fashioned Jew-hate: it’s never out of season, even in the world of chess. As a writer and magazine editor, I’ve covered chess before, and this is not unusual. WYCC doesn’t have the guts to do what they should do: ban any team that refuses to play against Israelis. Cowards.