Refused Handshakes while Israeli Flag, Anthem Banned at Arab Judo Tourney

The Israeli flag was banned at Judo tourney in UAE. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

Israel’s flag and anthem were banned and multiple losing competitors from Muslim nations refused the customary handshake with their Israeli counterparts in a tournament in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but Israeli judo competitors were victorious anyway. The Independent reported that the organizers of the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam judo tournament refused to play Israel’s national anthem or fly the Israeli flag, leaving Israeli victor Tal Flicker—the world’s top judo player in his weight class— to sing the anthem to himself.

The report noted that this is due to a ban in the UAE on Israeli symbols. The UAE is one of many Arab nations who do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Instead of the Israeli flag and anthem being honored, the International Judo Federation’s (IJF) flag was displayed and their anthem played instead. On Twitter, Israeli Prime Minister’s Office Arabic spokesman Ofir Gendelman praised the Israelis’ success there despite the controversy. “Israeli judokas won 5 medals in #JudoAbuDhabi2017. That’s the best response to those who banned the Israeli flag and anthem there,” tweeted Gendelman.

The Israeli spokesman also posted two videos showing competitors from Morocco and the UAE refusing to shake hands with their victorious Israeli counterparts following matches.

But in the end, Israel won the matches and the online public relations fight. The Independent reported that the subdued response by Flicker got him international affirmation on social media.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon was among those praising Flicker online. Tweeted Danon, “Mazal tov to Tal Flicker and Gili Cohen! You make Israel proud!!”

Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Emmanuel Nahshon summed it up this way on Twitter, “Another medal for Israel at #JudoAbuDhabi2017 !!The organizers hypocritically refuse to recognize us . We answer by winning. ISRAEL ROCKS!”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, October 29, 2017)


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