Dubai: wretched hive of racism and bigotry

Israel a Home Movie. Credit: Screen Shot
Israel a Home Movie. Credit: Screen Shot

I was born in an openly racist country. My birth certificate is careful to note I was born as “Race: White”. I left South Africa soon after birth and I no longer hold their passport having renounced my citizenship.

Today I hold an Israeli and a British passport. As such, if I tried to enter the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates even with my British passport, I would  be turned away. Israelis are not allowed in.

Dubai is a racist state. Obviously, I’m Israeli by choice, but many millions of people are Israeli by birth and, therefore, barred from entry to this supposedly “progressive” and “liberal” Arab Muslim Emirate.

So if you’re going to hold some sort of open, international conference, sporting event or award ceremony you need to realise you are enforcing upon your visitors the racist policies of the UAE.

In highly exceptional circumstances, after diplomatic and commercial pressure at state levels, the UAE can be persuaded to allow an individual Israeli in. In 2009 the World Tennis Association was fined $300,000 after the UAE failed to grant Israeli player Shahar Peer a visa to travel to the Dubai Tennis Championships. One year later they did manage to get her in to the country.

It had taken a mammoth effort on behalf of the rich and powerful World Tennis Association to elicit a turn around and have the UAE issue the following statement:

The decision to issue the permit is in line with the UAE’s commitment to a policy of permitting any individual to take part in international sports, cultural and economic events or activities being held in the country, without any limitation being placed on participation by citizens of any member country of the United Nations.

It had also taken huge pressure on all the sponsors of the WTA who’d been made to look very stupid by the previous year’s refusal to allow the Israeli to play.

Earlier this year even a UK Premier League football club discovered one of their star players was banned from a UAE training camp for the crime of being born in Israel. Swansea City striker Itay Shechter stayed behind because of UAE racism.

Now the latest: the International Federation of Television Archives decided to hold it’s annual award ceremony in racist Dubai. And then, of all the dumb luck, realised one of the potential recipients of an award is an Israeli film with an Israeli directory!

The IFTA has tried it’s best to make out as if the director is too busy to come, and they’ve tried hiding behind the racist entry visa requirements of Dubai, but they’ve made it clear that participants in the event are on their own and will receive no help getting a visa:

Everyone travelling to attend the FIAT/IFTA World Conference, no matter if the conference is held in the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Ireland, Beijing or the United Arab Emirates, must make sure to get a valid visa before entering the country. This is the sole responsibility of the attendee of the conference, and FIAT/IFTA does not have any influence on diplomatic relations between the country of a visitor from anywhere in the World and the country in which the World Conference takes place.

So here’s the deal. If you hold a major event in Dubai you, your sponsors and your other participants are excluding Israelis (and by Israelis we mostly mean Israeli Jews).

If your organisation is based in Australia, as a forthcoming case may well prove, you might even be committing an actual crime!

If this matters to you, head over to Elder of Zion and peruse the list of sponsors to this event: perhaps send them an email asking them why they are helping racism by sponsoring an event in Dubai.

About the Author
Brian of London made aliyah from the UK to Israel in 2009. For many years he has blogged and broadcast about Israel, technology and other subjects. Most recently he's focused on the experience of driving an electric car every day. Brian has a scientific PhD but today owns a business in Israel.