Petty Apartheid at the Olympics

August 16, 2016 | Gerald Steinberg
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At this year’s Olympic games, Lebanese athletes prevented their Israeli counterparts from boarding a bus, an Egyptian judoka refused to shake hands with his Israeli opponent after a match, and a Saudi judoka canceled a fight with an Israeli. Such behavior, dictated by Arab and Muslim states, is hardly unprecedented. Employing “petty apartheid,” a phrase used in South Africa to refer to the more minor, everyday forms of racial persecution, Gerald Steinberg describes this scandalous and systematic shunning of the Jewish state, and the world’s indifference to it:

The so-called international community, including the Olympic Committee, has, at most, reprimanded the boycotting teams and athletes, [thus] becoming a willing accomplice to anti-Israel apartheid. In previous displays of [such] racism, no action was taken against the Syrian, Iranian, and Lebanese teams and no penalties exacted to create a deterrent or express opposition.

In these frameworks, as in the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, the 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, including the wealthy oil producers, control the agendas and have veto power over the officials. Similarly, the self-appointed guardians of human rights, including . . . Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, are silent when Israelis are the victims. . . .

In Lebanon, whose government and society is subject to intimidation by Hizballah, . . . the minister of youth and sport . . . praised [the team’s] actions in Rio as “principled and patriotic.” . . . As in the case of South Africa under the apartheid regime, contact with Israelis is treated as a form of impurity, and petty apartheid remains the norm.

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