By: Maayan Moss  | 

The Summer Olympic Scandal

She scrolls through the endless list of country names, many she has never heard of, one country in mind. Blue and White, pride and tradition, I...I...Israel, Where is it?
He grins as he makes his way toward the bus, laughing with his teammates, anticipating the game. Sweat drips down his brow in the Rio heat, AC on his mind. He reaches the bus but someone stops him from boarding. He stands in the heat wondering, waiting...
Shock echoes through the stadium...She forfeited the match…a simple question...why?
Boos ring in his ears as he stands there, hand extended, head cocked. Will he take the hand? No, he sees the back of his opponent walking away, hand still out, head still cocked, ears still ringing…
This year’s Olympic games expressed a unique take on the long-standing Olympic values of peace and coexistence. Rife with political statements and slights against the Israeli team, the Olympics in 2016 contained a fair number of surprising events. Fans of the Israeli Olympic team were quite disheartened to see the clear and unadulterated insults against the State of Israel that occurred in Rio De Janeiro this year.

We begin outside of Rio, on one of the most common social media networks of today’s day and age, Facebook. As many know, Facebook has an Olympics page on which people are given the opportunity to use their favorite Olympic team's flag as their profile picture. This year, however, the compendium of available flags on the Facebook page suspiciously lacked that of the Israeli delegation. Fans of the team did not have the option of using their nation’s flag in their profile picture. Despite the reassurance by Facebook moderators of “technical issues” and the later addition of the flag to the lineup, a bitter taste permeates my mouth as I wonder at these interesting “technical issue” no other country seemed to have.

The list of slights continued on a roll before the games even began, on none other than the opening night. As the Israeli team attempted to board their designated bus they were abruptly stopped by their Lebanese opponents. The Israelis intended to share the bus peacefully and with camaraderie but the spirit of the night was ruined as the head of the Lebanese delegation ordered the bus driver to close the door on the Israeli team. When that command failed, he physically blocked their entry, standing in the doorway, looking down at his understandably astonished competitors. The Israeli team was graciously granted a different vehicle and made their way to the ceremony separately. Aside from a minor reprimand by the IOC to head of the Lebanese delegation, Nakoula, and a warning that his behaviour would not be tolerated, no action was taken in recrimination for this extreme offense which could have easily escalated to violence.

As the games began, no fewer than two additional affronts could be noted. During the Judo matches of this year’s fierce competition, two separate Jodokus publicly spurned Israeli competitors, refusing to acknowledge them. The first instance occurred on Sunday, when Saudi Judoka, Joud Fahmy, withdrew from her first round of fighting supposedly to avoid fighting Israeli Judoka Gili Cohen. The Saudi Olympic delegation denied these claims, however, attributing her sudden withdrawal to injury. This injury was questioned by none other than Fahmy’s Olympic coach Nieto. The second event was when Egyptian Judoku, El-Shahabi, refused to shake the hand of his Israeli opponent and victor, Or Sasson. El-Shahabi was rebuked by the IOC and subsequently sent home. He later released a statement saying, “...for personal reasons, you can't ask me to shake the hand of anyone from this state (Israel), especially in front of the whole world.”

This unfortunate chain of events simply serves to reinforce my belief that the Jewish people, despite numerous attempts at coexistence, are still disrespected and ridiculed by the world. I pray that one day Israeli-Arab relations will become friendly and our peoples will be able to coexist without insult or injury, IYH.