BARCELONA – Rummikub, the Israeli game made popular worldwide, has become the recent victim of the trend to boycott Israeli goods throughout the world.
Following Israel Navy's raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, a chain of toy stores in Spain decided to remove the Israeli product from its shelves and replace it with a Chinese imitation, a report in the Spanish newspaper al-Pais revealed.
"We carried the game until now because it is very interesting from a pedagogical perspective," said Quim Sicília, one of the senior managers of the Abacus chain, to the Spanish newspaper. "But as a cooperative, we see what is going on, and we must be sensitive to the social situations."
The game, marketed in Israel by the company Kodkod, was invented by Ephraim Hertzano, and has earned many fans around the world. Just last year, the Rummikub World Championship was held in Spain.
According to Sicília, the decision to remove the Israeli game was made independently by the chain's management, and not as a result of pressure from pro-Palestinian groups. However, following the article's publication in al-Pais, Abacus issued a clarification saying that the statements reported in the newspaper were taken out of context and that there is no boycott of the product.
A senior Abacus official explained to the Yedioth Ahronoth daily that the Israeli product will continue to appear in the company's catalogue, and is sold mainly to schools at 40 euros a unit. The Chinese imitation, he said, "entered the picture in order to provide a cheaper, more accessible option to families."
Regarding the Chinese version of the game, called "Rummy", that is carried in Abacus (which has 34 branches, mainly in Catalan), the Spanish newspaper quipped, "China is known as a country with a dictatorial government that issues the death penalty and limits freedom of expression."