8-year-old Lebanese chess player: Israel is the enemy

Watch: Eight-year-old Lebanese chess prodigy boasts about refusing to compete against an Israeli player during a chess championship.

Elad Benari,

Chess (illustration)
Chess (illustration)

Eight-year-old Lebanese chess prodigy Mark Abou Deeb appeared last week on Lebanon’s OTV and explained that he had refused to compete against an Israeli player during a chess championship in Spain because Israel is an enemy.

The boy also thanked Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah for liberating Lebanon from Israel.

The segment aired on December 25, 2018, and was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Deeb was asked by the host if it is correct that many Lebanese people consider him to be a hero and whether is correct that he refused to compete against an Israeli opponent at the chess championships in Spain.

When Deeb confirmed that he refused to play the Israeli, the host asked him why he made the decision, to which he replied, “Because Israel is an enemy.”

He was then told that among those who were proud of him was Nasrallah and was asked how he felt when Nasrallah spoke about him.

“I was very happy,” replied Deeb, who went on to describe Nasrallah as a “resistance fighter
who “liberated Lebanon from Israel” and thanking him.

Athletes from Muslim countries that do not recognize Israel or have any relations with the Jewish state often refuse to play against Israelis. In some cases, those countries ban Israelis from entering and participating in sporting events. When Israelis are permitted entry, they are not allowed to wear any Israeli symbols and the national anthem is not played.

In 2017, organizers of the Grand Slam tournament in Abu Dhabi refused to play Israel’s national anthem when Tal Flicker won a gold medal. Flicker was wearing an International Judo Federation uniform and received his medal under an IJF flag while the anthem of the federation was played.

The restrictions on the Israelis continued despite the fact that the IJF had called on the United Arab Emirates to treat Israeli athletes equally during the Grand Slam tournament.

The judo competition was reinstated after its organizers promised equal treatment to Israeli athletes.

Last month, the World Blitz & Rapid Championships in chess was relocated from Saudi Arabia to Russia after the kingdom refused to grant visas to Israeli players.

Also in 2017, Iranian chess officials banned a 15-year-old from domestic chess tournaments and the national team after he played against an Israeli opponent at an international chess event.