UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

The Abraham Accord

We congratulate the leaders of Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United States on the Abraham Accord of 13 August 2020 to establish full diplomatic relations.

This will be of great benefit to the peoples of Israel and the Emirates, as well as many others in the Middle East and around the world. It is a significant further step in the realisation of the vision shared by Emir Feisal and Dr Chaim Weizmann in which Jews and Arabs would together forge a new and progressive Middle East.

Miri Regev MK at Abu Dhabi Grand Slam 2018 with Israeli Gold Medallist

As recently as October 2017, Israeli judokas had to compete in the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam without any reference to Israel. When Tal Flicker won a gold medal, the anthem of the International Judo Federation (IJF) was played and its flag flown, instead of Hatikvah and the Israeli flag. A member of home team refused to shake hands with his Israeli opponent.

UKLFI Director, Sam Green, wrote to the IJF in November 2017, pointing out that this discriminatory treatment of Israeli competitors breached the IJF’s Statutes, Code of Ethics and National Federation Rules, as well the Code of Ethics of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

We received a response from the IJF President, Marius Vizer, that he was personally striving to resolve this issue as fast as possible so that all athletes may practice their sport without any discrimination of any kind. Since we did not receive any report of progress, we wrote to the IOC Ethics Commission in February and March 2018.

In July 2018 the IJF published a statement referring to its Code of Ethics and announcing its suspension of further tournaments in Abu Dhabi until government guarantees were given to ensure free and equal participation of all nations.

The guarantees were duly given and the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam went ahead in October 2018. Israeli judokas Sagi Muki and Peter Paltchik won gold medals. Hatikvah was played and the Israeli flag flew high above the stadium in the presence of Israeli Minister of Sport, MK Miri Regev, who was also given an official tour of Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque.

We do not know to what extent our intervention had any impact on the progress that has led to the Abraham Accord.  However, the IJF and Israeli judo champions think judo played a role If judo played a role, then UKLFI also did.