Israel’s representatives to the judo Grand Slam event in Abu Dhabi have been told that they will once more not be allowed to compete under their country’s flag.
The blue-and-white delegation to the final Grand Slam competition of the year is set to include 12 athletes, but Israel Judo Association chairman Moshe Ponte was informed by the organizers that they won’t be able to have the Israel flag on their judo uniform, as they do in every other event across the world. Instead of having ISR (Israel) by their names on the scoreboard and on their backs, they will have to take part in the contest as representatives of the IJF (International Judo Federation). The national anthem will also not be played, should an Israeli win a gold medal.
This is something Israelis and supporters of Israel have grown used to.
We are not, in the minds of the Emiratis, a country. And if asked, they would doubtless agree with the spokespeople of the Palestinian Arabs that the Jews are not a people. Maybe even that Jews are not people at all, although this isn’t something they would admit in public.
Miri Regev, our combative Minister of Culture and Sport, wrote a harsh letter. Maybe Abu Dhabi will drop its insulting demand, maybe we will not send our athletes to compete, or maybe we will do what most of the non-Muslim world does over and over (including the government of Israel) in the face of lunatic Muslim demands for submission, and submit.
I’m sick of it.
Here’s a personal story. I’m an amateur radio operator (a “ham”). Many of us engage in competition to contact as many different “entities” as possible. There is a list of 340 entities, defined by political and geographic criteria. Some are normally uninhabited and inhospitable to human presence, and some have few amateurs. They may only be available for short periods of time, as when someone organizes an expensive expedition to a place like Bouvet Island, in the South Atlantic near Antarctica. Contacting a large number of them is quite difficult, and requires patience and time. Amateur radio is in a sense a sport, although perhaps a sedentary one; but like other sports it strives to stay above politics.
The location of a station is identifiable by its call letters, and there are currently 7 or 8 countries (Iran, Yemen, Libya, etc.) who do not permit operators within their jurisdictions to contact stations in Israel. So we are automatically at a disadvantage in competition. But rarely does anyone complain. It is expected. Israel is special.
This is probably less important than Judo, which in turn is less important than the UN Human Rights commission, which has passed about 70 resolutions condemning Israel since 2006, more than all other countries put together; or UNESCO, from which the US and Israel have removed themselves because of its ludicrous bias. Or the UN General Assembly.
But all of these “little” insults add up. Like an abusive relationship in a marriage or between a parent and a child, in which every interaction provides an opportunity for the abuser to belittle and insult the victim, there is a cumulative effect on both the target of the abuse and bystanders. No matter how secure she is, there is a feeling that if she weren’t doing something wrong, she wouldn’t be a target of abuse. And if there is more than one abuser, the effect is even greater.
What begins as verbal abuse between partners becomes physical; and minor physical abuse can become major and even lead to murder. In the international realm, a sustained campaign of delegitimization can be a precursor to war or genocide. It’s happened more than once.
When the state of Israel was founded despite the violent opposition of the Arab world, the conflict surrounding her was mostly contained in the region. The Arabs attempted to enforce an economic boycott, which was only spottily effective. But with the artificial creation of the Palestinian movement in 1967, and even more so with the Durban Conference in 2001 and the program of associating Israel with the modern-day deadly sins of racism, apartheid and colonialism, bullying Israel became a worldwide endeavor. Europeans jumped on the bandwagon with glee, picking up what Richard Landes called a “get out of Holocaust shame free card” by accusing Israel of being worse than the Nazis. And in North America, liberal Jews who wanted to belong to the fellowship of the intersectional Left were easy prey.
Even many Israelis (some of whom work for important media outlets) wilted under the onslaught and began to believe that their country actually was a racist, colonialist enterprise and even an apartheid state.
Another personal story: when I was 8 or 9 years old I had a friend who liked to tell me how dumb I was. One day, after he’d called me stupid four or five times, I picked up a large two-by-four (for non-Americans, a wooden beam about 5 cm by 10 cm thick) and swung it at him. Luckily for both of us, it struck his shoulder instead of his head. My parents explained that I might have killed him, and didn’t I know that I wasn’t dumb? “I know, but I’m tired of hearing it,” I said.
Israel needs to express that she, too, is tired of abuse. Getting a divorce from UNESCO was a good start, although I’m embarrassed that we had to wait for the US to do it first. We should tell the hosts of the Judo competition in Abu Dhabi that their singling out Israel is unacceptable; either they drop their special rules or we will not participate. And we should demand that the International Judo Federation does not accept the results of any contest that does not treat all competitors with respect.
Now I think I’ll try some similar judo on the committee that governs amateur radio competition.