WTA Statement from Shahar Peer on ATP Dubai Admitting Andy Ram
by Staff | February 19th, 2009, 5:09 pm

“I welcome the decision just announced by the United Arab Emirates and the Dubai tournament to reverse a stance that until now has prevented Israeli athletes from competing in the UAE. This is a great victory for the principle that all athletes should be treated equally and without discrimination, regardless of gender, religion, race or nationality. It is also a victory for sport as a whole, and the power of sport to bring people together.
It is still very unfortunate that due to the decision of the Dubai tournament and the UAE, I could not participate in the tournament this year. This has hurt me significantly both personally and professionally. However I am very happy for Andy Ram, who will be able to compete next week in Dubai. I hope and believe that from this day forward, athletes from all over the world will be able to compete in the UAE and anywhere else in the world without discrimination of any kind. I personally look forward to competing in Dubai next year.

This has been a very difficult period for me, and I want to thank the many thousands of fans and organizations all over the world that made this breakthrough possible, including the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and my fellow players. All of them have supported me these past days, weeks and months. It is truly humbling and also inspiring to know how many of us feel strongly and are willing to do all that we can to break down barriers of discrimination.”

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18 Comments for WTA Statement from Shahar Peer on ATP Dubai Admitting Andy Ram

blakemccaski11 Says:

dubai needs a name change

disgrace sounds right

bobbynorwich Says:

Classy statement from Peer.

Jwnich Says:

Credit to Venus Williams for her public rebuff of the exclusion Shar Peer in Dubai – whilst Venus is not one of my favoutite player she has gone up in my book by a million percent. Shar come to Eastbourne again – your always welcome

Colin Hinshelwood Says:

The recent denial of a visa to Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer by the United Arab Emirates was a brave act of morality on behalf of the small nation in the face of international political pressure and much criticism from the world tennis body.

Arabic states such as UAE should not have to stand alone in taking action against Israel. The worldwide BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign against Israel calls for all governments and civil society to take a stand against Apartheid and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

It was exactly a campaign like this that provoked change in South Africa less than 20 years ago.

While Israel may enjoy lavish funds from its sponsor, the US, a sports boycott indicates that we, as a civil society, cannot tolerate mass murder and demand that the “slow genocide” that Palestinians are being forced to endure is halted.

Anyone who has seen the images of hundreds of dead children decapitated, blown to pieces or pulled from the rubble of buildings in Gaza cannot otherwise feel that steps must be taken by the international community at every level of society to stop these war crimes.

Governments won’t do it.

From a sports perspective, Palestinians are denied the right of assembly to play sports, players are denied the right to move from town to town to participate, and Palestinian sportspeople are all but disenfranchised from the international sports arena because of Israeli occupation and aggression. Recently the Palestinian national football team was unable to field a squad because certain players were held up at Israeli checkpoints in the occupied West Bank.

So it must be that Israeli sports persons are held up at checkpoints too. In this case, by implementing a ban — not personally on Shahar Peer, who is a also victim of her country’s policy — but on all Israeli sports teams and competitors. When Palestinians are free to participate in sporting events, then the ban and the boycott on Israel will be lifted.

Remember: the boycott of South Africa’s rugby and cricket teams and ban from Olympic competition in the 1980s generated publicity and knowledge among apolitical people around the world about the Apartheid regime and the campaign to free Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

A sports boycott of Israel is a necessary and productive gesture and other sports federations must be put on the spot to back this up.

Henry Says:


With all due respect for your opinion and your stand, I have to disagree to use sports as a means to make others aware of what may be considered unjust acts of war.

I agree with you that nowhere in the (sports) press were people made aware of the 1,300 Palestinians that died by Israeli firepower in the week prior to the Dubai tournament. Don’t get me a wrong, I’m pro Israel, but I’m not anti-Palestinian and I’m also against unjust and exaggerated acts of war that are a result of simply finding an excuse to commit that very act of war.

But, let’s not forget that the Palestinian and/or Arab boycott movement are far from clean either and has committed many cowardly acts (or did you already forget the murdering of Israeli Olympic team members and the bloodshed at the Munich Olympics and the countless cowardly acts of Yasser Arafat?)

And when you use the word genocide, the USA under Bush is very much responsible for a real and true genocide in Iraq. Nobody talks about the hundreds of thousands (probably in the half million range!!) innocent Iraqi children and civilians who died because of four ego-tripping idiots in the White House. These guys (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rove) should be led to the international court of justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity. It will never happen though, because this would be too much of an embarrassment to the US and its present more forward thinking leaders. Does this mean US players and teams should be banned through a sports boycott of the US?

Dubai and the UAE have the right to be against Israel and Israeli actions. They also have the right to be pro Palestinian. However they should not use a tennis tournament to show this. As a matter of fact by allowing Shahar Peer entry they would have shown much more and would probably have received far more attention for what they consider war crimes by Israel. All the cyber talk is about the visa refusal and not about the many innocent Palestinians who died.

Sports should bring people together. Sports will forge friendly relations. Sports can be one of the driving forces of creating an understanding between nations through the understanding and respect of athletes. We cannot blame athletes for the wrong doing of their governments.

MMT Says:

I have to say that I don’t disagree with using sports as a lever to create change in a regime that is behaving incorrectly. Colin gave the example of South Africa, who’s sole Davis Cup victory came by way of a forfeited final against India in 1974, in protest of their policy of apartheid. If countries and individuals choose to take a political stand by boycotting a COUNTRY who is behaving badly, that is their prerogative.

This, however, is not the case with Dubai’s action with regard to Shahar Peer. Here, the country of Israel was not isolated or punished, the INDIVIDUAL Shahar Peer was, and this was in clear violation of WTA rules, and as such should have been dealt with more directly by her peers in the WTA.

Had the UAE chosen to ban their athletes from competing somewhere (including Israel), or anywhere that they deemed not hospital to their interests, they would have the right to do so. But they chose to punish an individual for the actions of her government, and this is not fair to that individual, and would create an untenable precedent of random discrimination against individuals by a sporting events that have accepted, of their own free will, the rules of the WTA tour that prohibit such actions.

I’m not suggesting that politics and sports can be completely separated from each other. But even in the days of apartheid, individual South Africans were not banned from competing in international sporting events, as this would not have been fair to those individuals. In this regard I agree with Henry.

The issue here is the discrimination of an individual in clear violation of rules that a tournament has agreed to uphold.

Colin Hinshelwood Says:

Thanks to MMT and Henry for their constructive comments.

It certainly did appear that the UAE were singling out Peer and not acting against Israel, doesn’t it?

However, the boycott of South Africa also started slowly and with hiccups and repercussions. In the end though, it was successful and helped bring about the fall of Apartheid.

Recently, the UK govt floated the notion of a sports boycott on Zimbabwe and the Mugabe regime -now retracted of course due to the power-sharing deal. The reaction in the UK was almost unanimous in its support for this action, but when it was pointed out that a popular Premier League footballer would be singled out, the action seemed petty and irrelevant.

In this case, however, we do have to look at the bigger picture. Believe me when I say that Israel will never halt its aggression against the Palestinians and the US will never end its military support for Israel.

That leaves civil society holding the candle. The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign that is currently in effect (in Asia, the UK, some countries in Europe; sadly not in the US) is constructive and is gathering momentum.

A sports boycott is a necessary next step. Israel should be banned from the Olympics.

Unfortunately, in the meantime, individuals such as Peer (and Ram) will be the scapegoats. However, they could do themselves a favor by denouncing the slaughter of Gazan children – at the very least.

margot Says:

Colin, I agree with every word you say about Gaza but..but..what gives one moral stand precedence over another? The world is full of horror, Russian action in Chechnia for one, the world has been pretty silent on that one. Why…well call me cynical but Russia is a very powerful nation and supplies European Gas….
Perhaps British and American athletes should have been banned from all sporting events because of the invasion of Iraq? Far more dead there than Gaza.
Let’s face it Russia, America, Britain seem to be able to do what they like. Israel is an easy target.

Colin Hinshelwood Says:

Thanks Margot. You are right. Israel is an easy target and we could just as soon sanction Russia, the US and Britain.
But perhaps it is the explicitly racist nature of the Zionist state that needs to be boycotted. This is a country continually led by polticians (most notably Ben-Gurion, Sharon and Netanyahu)who have advocated and practised the ethnic cleansing of innocent Palestinians since 1948.
The BDS campaign is an international call – and it is led by liberal Israelis – to bring the Israeli public to its senses and reject its governmental policy of Apartheid.

Henry Says:

thanks for the appreciation.

MMT, Margot and Colin: Never thought these tennis threads would stimulate the healthy discussion we are having.

As I said before, I’m pro Israel but not anti Palestinian and the BDS campaign sounds like a good exercise. I’m not so sure about a deliberate ethnic cleansing of Palestinians; however, the three leaders you mention were indeed very polarizing to say the least. The present turn of political events, with the return of Netanyahu and an ultra-right wing governement coaltion, may become an embarrassment for the new US government.

The problem is the world doesn’t seem to either care or really be interested in the true and deeper issues. Why, otherwise, could a little over half of the voters have re-elected a war mongering Bush & Cronies after he shouldn’t have been president in the first place anyway (…we all know about the stolen 2000 election…). And how can we explain that the great majority is neither aware of nor has it ever been made aware of the Bush family’s very close connection with Nazi Germany and the rise of Hitler. The despicable acts of Grandfather Prescott Bush are publicly available and searchable in the National Archives in Washington. The Bush family’s involvement and investment in Nazi Germany’s war industry and the IG Farben industrial conglomerate hs been a proven fact. IG Farben built the concentration camps, was responsible for the deadly gas with which they murdered millions of Jews, was responsible for despicable experiments on humans and produced the bullets that killed so many Americans… and I can go on). Even though the Bushes involvement is a fact, it has never been fully investigated by the main stream media. That family and a group of other families were and in most cases still are the pillars of government, secret service agencies and multinational industries and, therefore, seem to be excused and have been helped to steer clear of further investigation.

Do Americans know about these black pages in history? Unfortunately not and neither does the new generation of Israeli’s know much about what today would be called terrorist actions by their own Likud/government leaders in the past.

However, if we wish to be truly objective and fair, then what by one group is considered a terrorist act would be considered an act by freedom fighters by other groups. But that is a totally different discussion again.

I hope the BDS campaign will bring about better understanding. I also wish a similar international movement would lay bare all the criminal facts of what today seem to be respected ‘old rich’ families, governments and bastions of industry. It would help create a better understanding, less ignorance. This same citizen movement would demand greater accountability by their governments and may help bring about what in corny terms would be: Peace, Love and Understanding.

But, for now, let’s work together on letting sports and our beloved sport of tennis be the co-pillars of mutual understanding and healhty competition between nations.

margot Says:

Hi Colin,did you read Grendel quite a few posts away? S/he seems to think that the state of Israel will disappear in time anyway, just too isolated basically. I again agree with your analysis regarding Israel, but go back to Chechnya, genocide there, nobody cares, scarcely a blink from the world, it’s impossible to sort a hierarchy of wrongdoing by nations.
Cheers Henry, I didn’t know about Bush, not surprised! No Government, including mine in the UK, wants a politically educated population. Jack Straw has just prohibited the publication of cabinet discussions prior to Iraq War…
Anyway, back to boycotts, where do you start? Where would it end? am inclined to agree with your last sentence.

grendel Says:

Hello, Margot

I said to SG that I didn’t want to comment any more on the Israel/Palestine issue – it’s too tender, and there are very few people who are capable of being objective or cool in this arena. So allow me to say that whilst I suppose it is true very large populations tend, eventually, to swallow the small ones in their midst, this isn’t necessarily the case. Some minorities can be very, very tenacious. The Chinese, who are enormously more populous and powerful than the Arabs, are at present trying to eliminate (by process of swamping) the tiny Tibetan population. One fears they will succeed, but it is not certain. I am a he, by the way – or try to be, anyway. Try to be?

margot Says:

Good evening Mr Grendel, I wouldn’t care to make an assumption about anyone on the net. So because issues raise the blood pressure you don’t discuss them? Don’t agree. Jaw jaw, not war, war.
A criticism, I’d accept, is that we’ve gone off talking about tennis but this thread seems to have separated from the others, so if you aren’t interested in these issues you can avoid them can’t you? And politics came to tennis, not vice versa.

grendel Says:

Well, actually, Margot, I do discuss them and then I tend to go over the top… then, I suffer a reaction, a sort of self-disgust….this is all purely personal, you see, I make no generalisations….just one point. Churchill’s jaw jaw not war war is good in its way. But sometimes, war war is a result of (undue) jaw jaw…what do you think of that?

Pity about Murray, eh? His scheduled match with Gasquet, with both men in excellent form, looked like being a cracker….

sasha hartley Says:

I have suffered with high blood pressure all my life and it is nothing to joke around with, Margot. Alcohol can spike it to levels extremely dangerous however a level of some excitement is good for your heart along with activites such as tennis. Most ignorant comments come from those who do not even play the game like me.

margot Says:

Good evening Mr Grendel, so jaw jaw can result in war, war can it?….Hmmm, I can see how broken jaw could result in war, but i’d like an example or two to support your premise please.
News about Murray, terrible, we can only gaze across the channel in envy.
sasha hartley: I was not making a joke about high blood pressure I was making a very serious point about the need to keep talking at all times in spite of the anxiety and upset that words can cause us.
You misunderstand me.

grendel Says:

I think what I meant, Margot, – well, let’s be roundabout. You know that old nursery saying that sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me, or something like that. Well, I don’t agree with that. Skilfully employed (with malign intent) and directed at a suitable target, words can be devastatingly hurtful. Actually, the intent doesn’t even have to be malign. I can recall some guy really had it in for me. Apparently, I had gravely insulted him in the pub. I could remember none of this, but he had a quite manic gleam in his eye, and he wasn’t satisfied until he landed the heaviest punch he could, near breaking my nose. I didn’t react to this, but just stared at him, asking him why he had done it. All the fight suddenly went out of him, and he stared at me helplessly. But all these years later, it still has the quality of nightmare, the murderous and utterly incomprehensible hostility this man felt for me all about – it seemed – a few words.

More generally, I think we can talk things up, by going on endlessly, and thereby give the situation under review a weight it doesn’t necessarily intrinsically possess.

However, Margot, I have absolutely no idea. I was being a little bit frivolous, and perhaps just a tiny bit serious.

margot Says:

Grendel:Hmm, your premise begins to look like a leaky bucket……Night

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