An eight-year-old Lebanese chess player has been hailed as a hero in his country — including by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah — for refusing to play against Israeli opponents at a tournament in Spain.
The boy, Mark Abou Deeb, said during an interview last week with the Lebanese OTV channel that he had refused to play against Israelis “because Israel is the enemy,” according to footage documented and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
“Many Lebanese people consider you to be a hero, right?” host Rosanna Rammal asked him during the December 25 interview, asking him why he had refused to compete against Israelis.
After he answered, “Because Israel is an enemy,” the two hosts repeatedly asked him to speak louder. Eventually they replied, “Bravo.”
Lebanese Chess Prodigy Mark Abou Deeb on Refusing to Play against Israeli Opponents: Israel Is the Enemy pic.twitter.com/TViNO5B3OY
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) January 1, 2019
Abou Deeb competed in November in the World Cadet Chess Championships in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain in the under-8 open category.
Two Israeli boys, Guy Sivan and Tomer Sternfeld, also competed in that category. The results on the tournament website show that Abou Deeb hadn’t been paired up against either of them in any of the 12 rounds of play.
Reports in Lebanese media at the time said that Abou Deeb had declared ahead of time that he wouldn’t play Israelis since that would constitute “normalization” with the Jewish state.
Nasrallah mentioned the affair during a speech on November 10.
“We have many venerable examples of confronting normalization,” said the terror group’s leader. “Mark Abou Deeb, a Christian Lebanese youngster, participated in an international chess competition in Spain. He set a condition that he will not play with an Israeli because he is an enemy. Hope is here with these youngsters.”
Rammal mentioned that speech during her interview with Abou Deeb.
Asked whether he knows who Nasrallah is, Abou Deeb answered: “He is a resistance fighter. He liberated Lebanon from Israel.”
Asked what he wanted to say to Nasrallah, he said, “Thank you.”