Sunday, June 14, 2009

Israel and the Arab world over the Chess Board

Yet again there are attempts at achieving peace in the Middle East. Leaving the politicians aside for a moment, it should be noted that such peace perhaps is easier to find on the chessboard than among the diplomats. Eliezer Pe'er, the team captain of the Israeli team for the 1960 Leipzig Olympiad, had gone around signing up the players in a notebook which was mention before in this blog. Among other teams, the players from Lebanon (right) and Tunisia (left, without a flag) signed their names -- in Arabic, too!

After the signing of the peace agreement with Egypt, one of the first cultural exchanges, as Yochanan Afek told me, was to send the Israeli chess players for a tournament with their Egyptian counterparts. He added that the trip was a bit of a consolation for Moshe Czerniak's wife for 40 years of "chess widowhood"... below, a copy (from Eliyahu Fasher's and Yosef Porat's book, Yosef Porat, Aman ha'Sachmat [Yosef Porat the Chess Master], Israel: Ha'Kibutz ha'Meuchad press, 1989, p. 94) of the tournament's memorial document. The headline is (in Hebrew and Arabic): "Israel - Egypt: First Joint Chess Tournament, Cairo, 5 / 1982". It is signed by all the players and participants.

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