Today’s news:

Queens pols slam Arab ban of Israeli athlete

After the United Arab Emirates banned a female Israeli professional tennis player from competing in a tournament in Dubai, elected officials in Queens moved to censure such actions in the future.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D−Whitestone) and state Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D−Fresh Meadows) met at the United States Tennis Association stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park last Thursday to announce legislation that would prevent organizations that discriminated against players elsewhere from sponsoring sporting events in New York state.

“This little dictatorship built on the backs of numerous foreign workers is not in a moral position to make judgments on who should play,” Lancman said. “Bigotry and anti−Semitism and racism have no place in New York sports.”

Stavisky noted sports are an opportunity for people to set aside ideological differences and get along with one another.

“Politics has no place in sports,” she said.

The player, Shahar Peer, 21, one of the top 50 professional female tennis players in the world, was denied a visa Feb. 15 by the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven states, prompting an uproar from the Anti−Defamation League.

Dubai has no formal diplomatic relations with Israel, whose standing in the Arab world further declined after a December military offensive in Gaza resulted in the deaths of 1,300 Palestinians. Peer was previously greeted with protests over the Israeli offensive in New Zealand during a tournament there in January.

“In recent years, we began to see an effort by the UAE to overcome years of a policy of isolation of Israel and Jews with a more open policy in commerce, industry, education and tourism,” said Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director. “Therefore, we are greatly disappointed.”

The ADL and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York both called on the Women’s Tennis Association, which sponsored the Dubai tournament, to consider no longer holding events in Dubai.

The organization fined Dubai $300,000 for preventing Peer from playing and demanded written assurances that players who qualify for the 2010 tournament will be let into the country regardless of nationality or religion.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

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