Let’s start with the standard “Israeli is oppressing us” libels. A recent iteration on the medieval “Jews poisoning the wells” libel is the “water libel” where Israel is accused of stealing Palestinians’ water. This has been thoroughly debunked by many sources, including the Israeli Government.
Now we come to the Olympics, and it was the Elder of Ziyon who first exposed the latest swimming pool libel. Tablet Magazine took this “water-libel” and ran with it further, showing how this libel is The Palestinian Olympic Swimming Pool-Sized Lie: (with photos from Elder of Ziyon’s follow-up post)
Introducing the Palestinian swimmer Mary al-Atrash, media outlets were quick to note that the young athlete was challenged not only by the rigors of training for the Olympics but also by the fact that the occupation had cut off her access to a proper 50-meter-long pool, the standard Olympic size. Such stately facilities, the media informed its outraged viewers, were simply not available in Palestine.
If we were blessed with journalists who had the ability to use advanced research tools like the internet, we might’ve benefited from knowing that the Israeli government office for coordinating activities in the West Bank, or COGAT, issued a statement last month on its Facebook page, making it clear that it would’ve gladly considered accommodating al-Atrash had she bothered applying for a permit to train in Jerusalem—which, like Palestinian athletes before her, she refused to do—and wishing her the best of luck anyway. It might’ve also been helpful to note that plenty of athletes around the world, including here in the United States, train, like al-Atrash, in semi-Olympic 25-meter pools, and that to qualify for the Olympics, al-Atrash had to have qualified in a regulation-size pool, which makes the whole access question a rather minor one. But never mind all that, because the Palestinian Territories, you see, have not one Olympic pool but several.
There’s this luxurious one in Gaza, built, maybe, with some of the leftover cement Hamas could spare after squandering billions on its terror tunnels; there’s one in Nablus; and when I called the folks over at the Murad resort in al-Atrash’s native Beit Sakhour, they assured me that their pool, too, was properly Olympically endowed. Water, water everywhere, then, and not a drop for swimming.
You can rest assured that while the swimming-pool libel has been debunked on Israeli and Jewish sites, the rest of the world remains convinced that Israel is an evil, water-stealing oppressor.
As for the famed “Olympic spirit”, don’t worry. That too remains unchanged. Anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hatred is alive and well, as we saw when the Lebanese team wouldn’t allow Israeli team on the bus on the way to the opening ceremony:
The Rio 2016 Olympic Games began on a sour note for the Israeli delegation, but not one relating to the actual competition. When the delegation was ready to board the bus to the Maracana stadium in the Brazilian city, they were physically prevented from doing so by the Lebanese delegation, already aboard, according Israeli sailor Udi Gal.
“The 2016 Olympics – a disgrace!!” wrote Gal in a Facebook post. “(When) Israel’s Olympic delegation got ready to board the bus for the opening ceremony, it turned out the bus was shared with the Lebanese delegation. Once the members of the Lebanese delegation realized they were (sharing the bus) with the Israeli delegation, they asked the driver to close the door, with their delegation leader heading (the effort).”
Gal claimed that the organizers tried to calm things down. “The organizers tried to split us up to different buses, something which was not possible security and representation-wise,” he wrote, “I insisted and we insisted that we get on the intended bus, and if the Lebanese don’t want (to ride with us), they are welcome to get off (of it). The bus driver opened the door, but this time the head of the Lebanese delegation blocked the entrance with his body. The organizers tried to prevent an international incident and sent us aside to a special (vehicle).”
Gal was surprised the organizers gave in to the pressure, writing, “How is it that they let something like this happen, and on the opening night of the Olympic Games? Isn’t this the opposite of what the Olympics represent and (don’t the actions by the Lebanese delegation) work against it? I cannot describe the way I feel. I’m enraged and shocked by this event.”
It is cold comfort to know that the Olympics Committee chided the Lebanese for their disgraceful behaviour:
The International Olympic Committee on Sunday issued a stern warning to the head of the Lebanese delegation to the games over his refusal to share a bus to the opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro with the Israeli team.
On Friday, Lebanese delegation head Salim al-Haj Nicola physically prevented Israeli team members from boarding their designated bus. They were ultimately provided with alternate transportation to Maracana Stadium.
Nicola was summoned for a hearing by the IOC on Sunday, and was reprimanded for his behavior.
IOC heads informed the Israeli delegation of the hearing and said they had made it clear that incidents of this nature “would not be tolerated.”
Nicola reportedly told the IOC that the incident had simply been “a misunderstanding.”
The heads of the Israeli delegation were pleased to hear about the action taken by the IOC and said they were eager to move on from the incident.
We shouldn’t be so forgiving or so craven. This isn’t the first time, nor the second, or the third, and won’t be the last time that Arab or Muslim teams discriminate against Israel and try to humiliate us in the public eye. A reprimand is meaningless. The Lebanese delegation should have been sent packing for violating the “Olympic Charter“. But just like in previous Olympic Games, those who discriminate against Israel are given a free pass, with at worst a meaningless slap on the wrist.
Another delegation that should be kicked out of the Olympics is the Saudi team, whose female judoka forfeited her match against a Mauritian judoka in order to avoid facing an Israeli athlete in the following round.
Saudi Arabian competitor Joud Fahmy forfeited her first-round judo match against Christianne Legentil from Mauritius at the Rio Olympic Games on Sunday, in what Hebrew media said was a maneuver to avoid facing Israeli judo fighter Gili Cohen in the next round.
The Saudi Olympic team tweeted that Fahmy had sustained injuries to her arm and leg during training and was advised by medical staff not to compete, the Hebrew language Ynet news site reported. According to Channel 2, Fahmy was not hurt, but simply dropped out to avoid competing against the Israeli judoka.
Cohen then lost to Legentil in a brief second-round bout later in the day.
This stupid, juvenile but hateful maneuvering by Arab athletes should be outlawed by ALL international sporting associations, not least by the Olympics. But please don’t hold your breath.
On a minor good point, after “only” 44 years, an official memorial to the 11 Israeli athletes murdered at the Munich Olympics was held before the start of the games. Why do I call this a “minor point”? Because the ceremony should have been held 40 years ago, at the Olympics following the massacre. Because the ceremony should have been held at the Opening Ceremony, in full view of the hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide. Because there should be a memorial or a moment of silence at every single Olympic Games. Because other athletes who unfortunately died during the Olympics should not be included in this particular ceremony. They were not murdered for being Jewish. No one held them hostage or tortured them and mutilated their bodies. The Olympics Committee, at least under its previous leadership, is a disgrace, this memorial ceremony notwithstanding.
I do note however, that there is going to be a “moment of reflection” in memory of the Munich 11 at the Closing Ceremony on 21st August. Maybe the new leadership is a hopeful sign of better attitudes in the future.
Here is the Facebook video of the ceremony (via Suzanne):
A timely reminder of how far we’ve come, and yet how little has changed when it comes to the Arab teams boycotts of Israel, Time Magazine has an interesting retrospective article: What happened when Hitler inaugurated Berlin Olympics 80 years ago:
That year, it became increasingly clear that Germany only wanted to see its superheroes in one light: the stars of the Aryan race, superior for their genetic makeup rather than their athleticism, says Barbara Burstin, history lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.
“It provided Hitler with a showcase,” Burstin says. “It was a propaganda bonanza for him.”
Some athletes and Olympics organizers in the United States and Europe considered pulling out of the Olympics altogether to compete elsewhere. The debate on whether to pull out on the American end was particularly heated, as the boycott began with the U.S. team. Avery Brundage, then the president of the American Olympic Committee, opposed a boycott, arguing that “the Olympic Games belong to the athletes and not to the politicians.”
Some academics, including Burstin, now believe that Brundage was complicit in the Nazi’s anti-Semitism in the Olympics, and that he even attempted to paint American Jews as unpatriotic and misguided for supporting a boycott. Meanwhile, the Nazis, seeing the negative reaction to what was supposed to be a great moment for Germany, temporarily took down anti-Jewish propaganda and did what they could to clean up Germany’s image prior to the games. In the end, the U.S. would send several Jewish athletes to the games…
[…] And so those Olympics would have repercussions that went far beyond the world of sports.
“It kind of dulled the opposition to [Hitler] that clearly had been quite evident up to 1936,” Burstin says. “A lot of people felt he was clearly heading in the wrong direction, and by going to the Olympics we gave him the opportunity to appear sane, rational and tolerant.”
Behind the scenes, however, the Olympics presented hardly a pause in the terrible progress of Nazism.
… Many Jewish athletes who either competed in the Olympics prior to 1936 or the 1936 Olympics itself would die in concentration camps during the Holocaust. Among them were Ilja Szraibman, a Polish swimmer and Roman Kantor, a Polish fencer, both of whom competed in 1936 and later died in Majdanek. Notably, Alfred Nakache, a French swimmer who competed in the 1936 games, would also compete in the 1948 Olympic Games in London after surviving Auschwitz.
And if you think that Nazism at the Olympics belongs in the dark and distant past, think again. In his Jewish Journal article “Nazis at the Olympic Village Gate“, Guri Weinberg reports that recently revealed German documents show that Nazi operatives assisted the Palestinian PLO terrorists in plotting the 1972 Munich Massacre. The Germans had received a tip-off about the attack and did heighten security. An Italian media outlet also reported that:
Black September terrorists were plotting a “sensational act” during the Olympic Games. But neither the Munich authorities nor the IOC acted on all this information. In fact, they covered it up for forty years.Why?
Because the truth is that the PLO/Black September had plenty of assistance from people in the German Secret Service, German police force, Interpol and the IOC. The common threads of those people that assisted Black September were their influence, positions of power and their affiliation with the openly defeated but still secretly thriving Nazi party.
This may sound shocking but there have been rumours about certain members of the IOC for years, particularly IOC head Avery Brundage as mentioned in the Time article:
The “father” of the modern Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin (IOC president from 1896 – 1925) and his successor, Count Baillet-Latour (IOC president from 1925 – 1942) were not only Nazi supporters, they were good friends with Hitler himself. They had an ally in the president of the American Olympic Committee, Avery Brundage, who was himself a Nazi supporter, to help end America’s protest of the Berlin games and to stop the Jewish athletes from competing at the Nazi games in 1936. After the 1936 Olympics, as a reward, Brundage’s construction company was awarded a building contract to build the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. Brundage was notified in a letter from Nazi authorities acknowledging Brundage’s pro-Nazi sympathies. Avery Brundage then became the leader of the post-war Olympic movement and official President of the IOC from 1952 to 1972. Brundage introduced Juan Antonio Samaranch to the IOC in 1966 as a man “whom he trusted and loved”.
This article concludes with these very poignant words:
My name is Guri Weinberg and I am the son of Moshe Weinberg, the Israeli wrestling coach murdered at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. And I repeat the message I sent the IOC four years ago – I am not going away.
While I am sure you all join me in wishing the Israeli time the best of luck (they’re not doing so well at the moment..) we need to keep in mind the sour memory and the rotten politics that lie at the foundation of this seemingly innocuous sporting event.