Saturday, August 13, 2016

Israel Defeats Islam

No, really, we did!
Islam El Shehaby, Egypt's Judo entry, was easily and quickly defeated on Friday by Israel's Or Sasson and then, following the great tradition of the Lebanese and the Saudis, Islam then proceeded to show the world that hypocrisy is the great winner of the 2016 Olympics in Rio and that the glory of the Olympic spirit has never been more easily vanquished.
The world wondered if Islam would take part in the competition this past Friday, or if he would join the Lebanese and the Saudis in showing that they held the games in contempt. The Lebanese started the insults even before the Olympics had even begun, by blocking the Israeli team from boarding the bus to the opening ceremonies. The Israelis were asked to divide themselves up to fit on other buses and correctly refused. The Olympic team organizers scrambled and got them another bus but failed to punish the Lebanese team, setting the stage for all that has happened since.
Then the Saudi judo player refused to play in Israeli. And again, the Olympic committee failed to do more than pay lip service to the insult. Incorrectly, they treated the Saudi and Lebanese actions as insults to Israel when, in fact, what they were doing is mocking the entire games and all they stand for. And so it continued.
On Friday, the Egyptian agreed to fight, was quickly defeated, and then delivered what was to be his insult - a refusal to shake the hand of the Israeli. What happens next was wonderful. No, as yet no response from the Olympic committee, but the crowd responded by booing Islam off the mats.
The Israeli team has consistently shown respect in the face of abuse; decency despite attempts to shame them. Many nations will go home with medals; some will go home in disgrace. Few nations will have faced what the Israeli team is facing daily. 
Apparently Islam, the competitor, is know for his virulent anti-Israel feelings. It is both ironic and amusing that in the end, the disgrace is his, while the Israeli walks away not only with the medal but with the respect of so many.
Kol Hakavod to you, Or Sasson - we are so proud of you here in Israel. Beyond the medal you bring home to us, is the pride we feel. It takes a special kind of strength to defeat Islam. And you did it easily simply by putting out your hand, offering respect and accepting that his refusal says volumes about him.

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