The Jewish Marathoner Who Will Miss the Olympics Rather Than Violate the Sanctity of Shabbat

In what seems like a real-life remake of the film Chariots of Fire—itself based on the true story of a devout Scottish Protestant sprinter who forewent an opportunity to compete in the 1924 Olympics because the qualifying race was held on Sunday—Beatie Deutsch, an Orthodox Jew and a mother of five, might miss her chance at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Akiva Shapiro writes:

Deutsch, now thirty, ran her first marathon in 2016, when she was a mother of four. A year later, she ran her second marathon while seven months pregnant. In 2018 Deutsch won a race for the first time and in 2019 she won the Israeli national marathon championships, with a finishing time of 2 hours, 42 minutes, 18 seconds—three minutes faster than the Olympic qualifying standard at the time. Along the way she has overcome severe anemia and dealt with celiac disease.

Deutsch doesn’t view her dedication to running as separate from her faith. “Our role in the world is to take the raw material God has given us and to use it to the fullest,” she says. “I have a talent for running.”

When the 2020 Olympics schedule was announced, the women’s marathon was scheduled for a Sunday, in line with historical practice. Later, . . . the event was moved to a Saturday. Deutsch requested that it be rescheduled for a different day. . . . So far her request has been denied. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has rejected any consideration of an athlete’s religious observance and restrictions in scheduling its event.

Numerous considerations affect Olympic scheduling, so religious observance can’t be determinative in every instance. But the IOC should take an athlete’s faith-based restrictions into consideration and accommodate them when feasible. The Olympic charter lauds the practice of sport as a human right, to be guaranteed “without discrimination of any kind,” including on the basis of religion. Finding a reasonable accommodation would make that promise real.

Read more at Wall Street Journal

More about: Judaism, 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