The 47 Israeli athletes who are currently representing the Jewish State at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro are on the front lines of a struggle not of their choosing, but it is one which they must not lose.
Israel is becoming more and more isolated in the international arena as pro-Palestinian Authority activists continue their attempts to delegitimize the Jewish State continue by promoting the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement around the world. Those efforts, plus the lawfare campaign against Israel being conducted by the PA and PLO leadership in various international forums — including the very halls of the United Nations itself — are slowly adding up.
Nor is anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli sentiment limited by any means to the political arena. For the first time since 1972, the International Olympic Committee at last was willing this year to at least acknowledge and publicly recognize in a memorial site the terrorist murders of 11 Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics.
For decades Jewish organizations, not to mention Israeli leaders and the families of the fallen, had appealed to the IOC without effect for at least a moment of silence to recognize the spilled blood and sacrifice of the athletes, who wanted nothing more than to represent the best of the sportsmanship of their nation.
It took the attacks on European nations by radical Islamic terrorists for the IOC to realize that ignoring terror ultimately brings the horror home to roost upon all.
Yet the anti-Semitism continues.
From the sillyness being played with Israel’s place among nations on the Rio Olympics Facebook profile listing, to the boorish behavior of the Lebanese delegation which tried to pick a fight as both groups prepared to head to the opening ceremonies, it’s clear that again a larger drama with Israel is being played on the world stage.
The International Olympic Committee has already had to scold the head of the Lebanese Delegation on Sunday for refusing to allowing the Israeli delegation to board a bus meant to take the two groups to the opening ceremonies Friday night.
During a hearing into the incident, the IOC warned Salim al-Haj Nakoula it would not put up with another “performance” like the one the Lebanese delegation had aimed at the Israelis and in fact, had imposed upon the entire Olympiad, all before the start of the Games.
But while the IOC was willing to reprimand the Lebanese delegation head on Sunday, the IOC officials who were on site Friday night did nothing to draw a line in the sand and lay down the law when it counted.
Caught off guard, they instead tried to scatter the Israelis among other buses to defuse the tension and quickly resolve the issue. That was an absolute ‘no-go’ for Israeli athletes on myriad levels, chief among them security and diplomatic propriety.
The head of the Lebanese delegation later told a Lebanese newspaper and the Al Mayadeen network that he had the right to prevent the Israeli team from joining the Lebanese athletes.
“The organizing committee saw the blunt behavior of the head of the Lebanese delegation and immediately arranged a different bus for us,” said Gili Lusting, head of the Israeli delegation, in a statement to The Associated Press. “The behavior of the head of the Lebanese delegation contradicts the Olympic Charter.”
“2016 Olympics…shame on you,” wrote Israeli sailing coach Udi Gal after the incident.
“The Israeli delegation was preparing to board a bus to the opening ceremony, which was to be shared with the Lebanese delegation. The Lebanese, upon comprehending that they were to share a bus with the Israelis, addressed the driver in refusal and demanded that the door to the bus be shut. Event organizers then attempted to scatter us on different buses – something that is unacceptable for security and representative reasons.”
“We insisted that we board the bus designated for us – and that the Lebanese should de-board if so they wish. So the bus driver opened the door. But this time, the head of the Lebanese delegation blocked the entrance to the bus with his own body. Event organizers – attempting to prevent a diplomatic incident – then organized a separate ride for us. But the diplomatic incident already occurred – shame!
“How can it be that something like this occurs on the eve of the Olympic opening ceremony? Does this not directly oppose what the Olympics represent and stand for…I cannot begin to express my feelings, I’m in shock from the incident.”
Hana Levi Julian