Why American Marathon Runners Should Take a Stand for Religious Freedom at the Olympics

In what seems like a real-life version of the classic film Chariots of Fire, the Sabbath-observant Israeli runner Beatie Deutsch faces a predicament regarding the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Nathan Lewin explains:

[T]he marathons—initially slated for a Sunday in 2020—are now rescheduled for a Saturday in 2021. [Deutsch] is an award-winning marathon runner who competes in a skirt, headscarf, and elbow-length sleeves. She won the Life-Time Miami women’s half-marathon in February 2020. She will probably represent Israel in the Tokyo event, but she will be able to run only if the race is not held on Shabbat.

[Since] the age of sports stars’ political neutrality is gone, [now] is the opportunity for the American marathon team . . . to emulate the basketball and baseball all-stars [protesting for social justice]. They and other American competitors in the Olympics should notify the Japanese Olympic officials that they will race only if no religious barrier is imposed that might cast a shadow over the fairness of the contest.

The American runners who have qualified to run in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics surely do not want potential triumphs to be marred by the disqualification of a runner who can’t compete because the adjusted schedule—moving the marathon from Sunday to Saturday—made it impossible for her to race. They can, and should, forcefully communicate this message to the Tokyo organizers.

Read more at JNS

More about: olympics, Shabbat, Sports


Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security