**UPDATE** Wiesenthal Centre to World Chess Federation (FIDE): "7 Year Old Israeli Chess Champion Banned from Tunisian International Chess Festival"
July 25, 2018
Dear Dr. Samuels
Please note that we have requested an urgent explanation from the Tunisian Chess Federation on instructions of Mr. Makropoulos and we will inform you accordingly upon receipt of their reply.
We are also sending them a separate letter requesting written confirmation that the 2019 World Schools Championship which is scheduled to take place in Tunisia, will provide visas to all participants. Only after that the organisation of the tournament will be confirmed for them.
"Her exclusion was announced on 20 July, “UNESCO International Chess Day"
"FIDE must suspend Tunisia unless it issues an invitation to Liel"
"Jews, Blacks and Gays will never again be banned from world sport... 1936 Berlin Olympics must never recur"
Paris, 25 July 2018
In a letter to Acting President of the World Chess Federation (FIDE), Georgios Makropoulos, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, expressed concern at "the exclusion of 7 year old Israeli champion Liel Levitan from the International Chess Festival 2018 to be hosted by Tunisia in Monastir, 1-9 September."
Liel Levitan (screenshot from Hadashot TV)
The letter congratulated Makropoulos on his appointment "in view of the apparent resignation of the 20 year Presidency of Kirsan Ilyumzhimov, reportedly following United States alleged charges of aid to Syria against the international sanctions regime."
Samuels noted that the Tunisian chess website claims that:
"- the tournament is open to all players
- FIDE Code of Ethics will be respected;
- [there will be] a closed tournament for women."
[See in attachment: "Regulations of Monastir International Chess Festival 2018"]
The letter continued: "In fact:
- little Liel has been banned solely as a citizen of the Jewish State;
- this is in flagrent contravention of FIDE’s Code of Ethics;
- indeed Liel, as a woman, should at least be permitted to play in the promised 'closed tournament for women'."
Samuels highlighted that "Liel’s exclusion order was announced on 20 July, 'UNESCO International Chess Day,' thus violating UNESCO’s commitment to the advancement of women and girls - a fact we are bringing to the attention of UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay," adding, "We would encourage Liel to sue Tunisia for blocking her young career in chess."
The Centre urged Makropoulos "to suspend Tunisia from FIDE unless it issues an invitation to Liel and - as a minor - her parents,to Monastir to play chess with her peers."
The letter continued, "chess is valued as a surrogate for war and an arm for conflict resolution."
"Mr. President, be assured that Jews, Blacks and Gays will never again be banned from world sport... the 1936 Berlin Olympics will never recur if, on this occasion, FIDE makes a stand," concluded Samuels.
For further information, contact Shimon Samuels at +33 609 770 158, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter feed.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).