A Lebanese boy, 8, has been hailed as a hero by Hassan Nasrallah — the leader of the terrorist group Hezbollah — for refusing to compete against Israeli opponents at a chess tournament in Spain, the Times of Israel reported.
Chess prodigy Mark Abou Deeb said during an interview last week with the Lebanese OTV channel that he balked at playing against Israelis "because Israel is an enemy," the paper said, citing a video translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
Host Rosanna Rammal asked the boy during the Christmas Day interview if he understood why he refused to compete against Israelis, the Times of Israel said.
"Because Israel is an enemy," Mark replied.
With that, Rammal and another adult asked the boy to repeat his answer with more volume — twice. After he complied, they both told him, "Bravo."
More from the paper:
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," Nasrallah said, according to the Times of Israel. "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."
Shiite supporters watch Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Lebanon's militant Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah.JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images
In the TV interview, Rammal asked the boy if he knows who Nasrallah is, and Mark replied, "He is a resistance fighter. He liberated Lebanon from Israel."
When she asked Mark what he wanted to say to Nasrallah, he paused for quite a bit without a word. Finally, a man sitting near Mark — the same one who encouraged him to repeat "Israel is an enemy" — suggested he say "thank you" to Nasrallah and wondered if he'd repeat his chess tournament gesture.
The boy simply said, "thank you."