Oren Hazan victorious in Knesset backgammon contest promoting coexistence

MK Oren Hazan (Likud) topped MK Omer Bar-Lev (Zionist Union) in the tournament finals.

January 30, 2018 12:36
2 minute read.
MK Oren Hazan hoists a trophy after winning the Knesset's backgammon tournament.

MK Oren Hazan hoists a trophy after winning the Knesset's backgammon tournament on January 30, 2018.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Lady Luck was on Likud MK Oren Hazan's side Tuesday when he won the Knesset's first-ever backgammon tournament, designed to promote coexistence between Jews and Arabs. Hazan beat out MK Omer Bar-Lev (Zionist Union) in the finals.

The tournament was organized by MK Zouheir Bahloul (Zionist Union), an Arab-Israeli, to promote coexistence, with the assistance of the organization "Kulna Yerushalayim," "Jerusalem Double."

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Along the road to his championship, Hazan delivered knockout blows to heavy hitters in the Knesset, including Knesset Interior Committee chairman David Amsalem, who said afterward, "I don't know what happened, the dice didn't work."

Hazan said after the event, "They can not defeat us in ideology, in the plenum and not in elections. I do not know what caused them to think they can defeat us in backgammon, and I only have to say— Rinati, I have brought the championship home," referring to his wife.

The tournament also featured an intriguing matchup between MK Amir Peretz (Zionist Union) and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud). After the event, Peretz posted on Twitter, "It's been 30 years since I last played backgammon, but for the sake of coexistence, I gladly accepted the challenge of opening the tournament against Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. I wish that the spirit of sport and the positive among us will affect all Knesset activity."

Edelstein won the clash of titans but retired before the final so as to avoid a matchup with Hazan.

Hazan has made a name for himself with a long history of brash behavior, especially toward those with whom he does not agree, including confronting families of Palestinian terrorists in December and accusations of sexual harassment in Knesset for inappropriate comments directed at female MKs in November. His biggest claim to fame, however, was his infamous stolen selfie with United States President Donald Trump.

"We play backgammon in the Knesset because we believe that Jerusalem is a city of everyone, Arabs and Jews, and we must work for equality between east and west Jerusalem, because backgammon teaches us that blacks and whites are equal and everyone has exactly the same chance," the organizers said after the event.

Arik Bender/Maariv contributed to this report

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