I had written recently that no matter how much bad news there was to write about, I would make an effort to incorporate some good news: It does help to keep us sane. And with the state of the world being what it is, we can use all the help we can get.
Let’s start with the summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Honestly, I didn’t really know what taekwondo (a Korean martial art, characterized by kicking techniques) was. But now I do. For one of our own, Avishag Semberg, has taken a bronze medal for this sport. On her return, at a celebration in her hometown of Gedera, she told the children who had come to greet her that “anything is possible” if they dream big.
This was a feel-good moment.
Avishag’s victory was a source of pride, but this story is touching in a different way:
Saeid Mollaei was once a judoka who competed for his native Iran. But he left Iran two years ago, revealing then that his coaches had ordered him to lose in the semifinals of the 2019 World Championships in Tokyo to order avoid facing Sagi Muki of Israel in the finals.
Somewhere along the way Saeid (left below) and Sagi met and became fast friends. Now Saeid competes for Mongolia, and just took a silver medal in the men’s 81-kilogram division in Tokyo. He told the Israeli Sports Channel that he was grateful for the support he received from Israel over the years. “Thank you to Israel for the good energy. This medal is dedicated also to Israel. Todah.”
And there is more to the story of Israeli-Iranian friendship that I want to share here. There is no ill-will between the people of Iran and the people of Israel. The problem is with the Iranian regime only. A video was made at the Olympics by an Israeli judo coach, Shani Hershko (left), and an Iranian judoko, Vahid Sarlak, in which they say they don’t care about politics and they are like brothers.
It is very beautiful and provides a massive dose of hope!
You can read all about it in an article here:
In the second paragraph of the article you will find a link to the video. (When I tried to put the link up separately, it did not work).
This year there were two judoka competitors – from Sudan and Algeria – who pulled out to avoid competing against Israel’s Tohar Butbul.
The Sudanese judoka, Mohamed Abdalrasool, claimed a shoulder injury (about which the Israeli team was dubious). But the Algerian judoka, Fethi Nourine, was upfront about his motivation, calling on his support for the Palestinian cause. He was suspended by the International Judo Federation, and International Olympic Committee director of solidarity James Macleod declared that the IOC is always concerned in these cases.
However, there was someone who cheered Abdalrasool on for his anti-Israel stance – and this is where we depart from the good news. That someone was Jabril Rajoub (pictured), who said he appreciated Nourine’s “courageous stance.” Rajoub, a bastard with Hamas connections who is as vicious as they come, is Palestine Olympic Committee Chairman. He encourages teams from various nations to refuse to compete against Israel because of “Israeli terrorism” and “the oppression and the difficulties that Palestinian players face.”
Three years ago, the FIFA, the international soccer association, fined Rajoub $20,000 and banned him from the association. Rajoub had “glorified terrorism,” encouraging soccer tournaments and teams to be named after Palestinian terrorists,” FIFA’s chief of investigations said.
This is particularly noteworthy because Rajoub, a major official in Fatah, the key party of the PLO, is touted as a possible successor to Mahmoud Abbas as head of the Palestinian Authority.
And the Biden administration thinks we should make nice with these creeps? Never mind the Biden administration – how about Meretz in our own government (see below)?
Speaking of the Palestinian Arabs…I am not quite sure whether we can call this “good” news from the Olympics. It is, of a sort, but of a very bittersweet sort.
Forty-nine years ago, Palestinian Arab terrorists from the group called Black September entered Olympic village in Munich and murdered the 11 athletes of the Israeli team at the Olympic Games.
I felt a deep anger after that happened, because the competitions went on. It felt to me as if the horrendous deaths of 11 Jews had been dispensed with too readily.
For years, families of those murdered sought official recognition at the Games, to no avail. This year, it finally came. At the opening ceremony, the announcer said:
“We, the Olympic community, also remember all the Olympians and members of our community who have so sadly left us, in particular, we remember those who lost their lives during the Olympic Games.
“One group still holds a strong place in all our memories and stands for all those we have lost at the games—the members of the Israeli delegation at the Olympic Games Munich 1972.” The stadium then went dark for a moment of silence.
With this, there was a sense that, very belatedly, justice had been done.
A success on the diplomatic front: After 22 years of being kept out, Israel will be joining the African Union as an observer state. Israel has diplomatic ties with 46 of the 55 members of the organization.
Foreign Minister Lapid called this “an important part of strengthening of fabric of Israel’s foreign relations. This will help us strengthen our activities in the continent and in the organization’s member states.”
I do not believe Lapid mentioned it, but this is just one more instance of former Prime Minister Netanyahu having paved the way. It certainly didn’t happen because of anything Lapid or Bennett did in just a few weeks’ time. Over a period of six years, Netanyahu prioritized strengthening of ties with Africa states.
In July 2016, he became the first prime minister in decades to go to Africa, and visited four East African nations: Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia. (Picture below is in Kenya.) He then hosted officials of more than twelve West African countries at an agricultural conference here in Israel. The following year he attended a major economic conference of West African states.
“Israel is returning to Africa in a big way!” he remarked at the time. And I now say, thank you, Bibi. This sort of effort was his forte.
I took the trouble to give Netanyahu credit here, which he deserves, in part because members of our current government are still after him, even after their (dubious) victory of having formed a coalition. They never let go, and it is most decidedly not to their credit.
Right now, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar (New Hope) is trying to promote a bill that would prevent anyone “accused of criminal wrongdoing” (whatever that means) from being charged with forming a government.
This is obviously directed at Netanyahu, to prevent his return. Sa’ar says he cleared this with Bennett, but Ayelet Shaked is opposed, as reportedly are others in Yamina. I hope this does not move forward. Have we lost sight of the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”?
At any rate, the members of the government coalition should not be too pleased with themselves (although I suspect they are), because decisions they are making are really bad news!
And here we have it: the “bad news” section of this posting.
As my readers know, there were four Arab families in the Shimon HaTzadik (Sheikh Jarrah) neighborhood who were to be evicted from Jewish-owned houses because they weren’t paying rent or their long-term leases had expired but they were refusing to leave.
This was, in its essence, a legal issue involving property rights, and lower courts had determined that the tenants could be evicted. For the details:
In May, Arab riots were incited in the neighborhood as the issue was made to be one of Arabs being driven out of their homes unfairly by Jews. The tenants appealed to the High Court, and the date of the ruling was pushed forward. But now the time for the ruling of the Court has arrived. Anything is possible, but there is every reason to believe that the High Court will find as the lower courts had.
It is expected that the Court ruling will not order the tenants, who are in the houses illegally, to be evicted, but rather rule that they can be evicted. Sources in the office of the prime minister have indicated that Bennett, hoping to take advantage of what the wording of the ruling will be, has decided not to evict, “in order to not fuel the flames of conflict in Jerusalem.”
So, he wants to avoid unrest and the violence in the holy city. Could be part of it. But there are likely other reasons as well, what we would call a line of thinking that is “over-determined.”
He also wants to hang on to his governing coalition, and thus may feel a need to keep Monsour Abbas, head of Ra’am, happy. And he is going to be seeing Biden, who has expressed disapproval of the evictions, and probably wants to keep him happy as well. Gee, a lot of people to keep happy, it seems.
So Bennett probably thinks he’s being clever. But my assessment is that he is very stupid:
He will be sacrificing Israel’s status as a nation of law, and sending the radical Muslims who rioted the message that they have “won,” besting Israeli law via violence. Next time an issue arises, and it will, they will be even more motivated to riot to get the results they want, confident that they can affect the outcome. So Bennett has behaved cowardly, kicking the can down the road.
What is more, the Muslim Arabs claim that eastern Jerusalem is theirs and that the Jews are trying to steal it from them. They will milk Bennett’s decision for all it’s worth, saying that his hesitation to evict “proves” that the housing belongs to Arabs.
As I said, stupid, stupid, stupid. Don’t ever believe Bennett when he claims to be right wing. He has sacrificed those credentials.
Not surprisingly, there’s more that indicates a left-ward tilt and a failure of strength on the part of the government:
The demolition of the illegal Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the Shomron is long over-due. It is years since the High Court had said it could be taken down. Netanyahu dragged his feet on this, although shortly before leaving office he had pledged to do it. At that point Bennett had criticized him for not doing it. But now? The Bennett-Lapid government wants a delay.
On Tisha B’Av Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) made an announcement that a formal request would be registered with the Court seeking a delay. And, indeed, a state lawyer claims that the formation of a new government requires a re-evaluation of government policy regarding the illegal village. But it appears that the Court is tired of the run-around: only a short extension was granted, and the Court advised it would be the last one.
Israel is going to be giving 16,000 new work permits to Palestinian Arabs to strengthen the PA. The plan was first announced by Regional Affairs Minister Issawi Frej (Meretz).
Frej is eager to revive long-dormant civilian cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. He is delighted that Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and Environment Minister Tamar Zandberg – both of Meretz – met their Palestinian Arab counterparts in Jerusalem.
“You can’t have…security coordination and be someone’s neighbors — and at the same time ignore one another and have frozen relations,” he declared. But I wonder if he has checked with Jabril Rajoub on this.
In coming days I will have lots more to say about the PA!! Today it was great writing about the Olympics!!
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.