Everyone and their mother is talking about how the Lebanese delegation stopped the Israeli one from going on the same bus to the Olympic opening ceremony a few days ago.
Naturally, Westerners and many Lebanese who reside in fictive lala land are finding the behavior of our delegation to be abysmal, as are the Israelis of course who are – gasp – extremely shocked that such a behavior could occur.
While Ray Bassil was competing in the women trap shooting qualifications on Sunday, the only way for us as Lebanese to follow her progress was to check Twitter. As I scanned tweets from all around the world discussing the Olympics, the common denominator between them was how “unprofessional” many thought the Lebanese delegations was.
To many, politics had no play at the Olympics. To those many, of course, the notion of two countries being at war, their interaction being illegal, and one of those countries constantly violating the other are foreign notions. But what do they know, I suppose, and explaining that will only fall on deaf ears.
The fact of the matter is, it would have been nice if the Lebanese delegation just didn’t care. But we don’t have that prerogative. We can’t not care given that it’s illegal for us not to, as per the laws of Lebanese-Israeli interaction, and we can’t not care because Israel remains, until this day and every day, an entity that has: occupied our South for over two decades, waged horrifying wars against our own people – politics aside – over and over again, committed massacre upon massacre (Qana rings a bell?), and continues to infringe upon our airspace daily.
Between foreigners thinking we are anti-semitic and unprofessional – typical Arab behavior, they’d say – while always thinking Israel is the entity receiving the short end of the stick, only one side always ends up in a positive light.
Well, no more.
Israel may have its biggest delegation at this year’s Olympics, but that delegation, for instance, has no Arabs. Did no one find that odd? In fact, in its history of participation at the Olympics, Israel has only had two Arabs ever represent it. Isn’t it the forever-villifed country of acceptance? I guess not.
Israel may be upset that the Lebanese delegation stopped it from going on a bus, but they don’t seem to horrified by the fact they’re doing way, way worse to the Palestinians they’re occupying and oppressing. Ignore politics, and let’s talk sports.
- On February 10th, 2016, the Palestinian National football team was detained for over two hours before traveling to Algiers for a game. Where was the outcry then? T
- On March 3rd, Palestinian footballer Fadi Shareef, a 19 year old, was detained and arrested at the Beit Hanoun checkpoint after returning from a hospital in Al-Quds. No one knows anything about the charges.
- On April 28th, 2016, the Israeli army threw gas canisters at the offices of the Palestinian Football association. This was unprovoked.
You can find more instances such as the ones above at this link.
But let’s talk about more travel-centric bans that the Israelis have done. This is what Israel did to the Palestinian delegation at this year’s Olympics:
- Banned the head of their delegation, Issam Qishta, from traveling with them by not issuing him a permit.
- Prevent the entry of the needed Palestinian sports kit to their territory, forcing the Palestinian delegation from buying its equipment in Brazil all over again.
This was reported by Al-Jazeera 6 days ago, but obviously few cared.
So let’s put the transgressions of Israel against Palestine, even in sports, aside for a second and go back to the Lebanese-Israeli bus incident in the first place.
Didn’t anyone else find it weird how both countries were on the same bus to begin with? Think about it. If they’re sorting the buses by alphabetical order, there are more than enough countries between the two to place them on different buses. Even if it’s a random assignment, the Olympics organizing committee would have made such a “random” match up no more.
Or maybe it wasn’t so random after all?
On June 19th, 2016, Haaretz reports the following in its prideful “Jewish news” section:
JTA – Mazel tov! That’s perhaps how the big shots in charge of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the first to take place in South America, will toast victories when the competition gets underway August 5.
Three of the top officials of the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee, including its president, Carlos Arthur Nuzman, are Jewish.
One of Brazil’s most prominent sports figures, Nuzman, 74, is a former president of the Brazilian Volleyball Confederation and has been president of the Brazilian Olympic Committee since 1995.
Nuzman’s father, Izaak, presided over the Rio Jewish federation, the Hebraica Club and the local Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal.
“He was one the greatest leaders of our Jewish community. He brought [David] Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir to Brazil,” Nuzman boasted, noting the late prime ministers of Israel.
Nuzman relies on other prominent members of the local Jewish community as deputies. Sidney Levy, a business executive, is the Rio 2016 committee’s chief executive officer and has a $2.2 billion budget to manage. Leonardo Gryner, a communications and marketing director who was part of the Rio 2016 bid, is deputy CEO.
So when Israel-associated figures are organizing the Olympics, would it be far-fetched to assume that those figures would want, in any capacity that they could, set up scenarios in which trouble can be stirred, such as on a bus, by placing the Israeli delegation with that of a country whose citizens they definitely know cannot and are not allowed and would not interact with Israelis in any capacity?
There’s a lot to be said about whether it would be better for Lebanese to compete (and beat) Israelis. The whole interaction issue is vast, and has been discussed before. But the conclusion is the following: when you’re a country with a constellation of war crimes and horrors under your belt, when you’ve done worse to the people whose land you’re encroaching on than simply being taken to another bus, and when your entire existence in drenched in hypocrisy, you don’t get to cry wolf.