A World-Champion Marathoner again Chooses the Sabbath over Athletic Glory

Much like Eric Liddell, the real-life athlete who sat out an Olympic race because he refused to run on the Sabbath—a story made famous by the movie Chariots of Fire—Bracha (a/k/a Beatie) Deutsch is sitting out an international competition for the same reason. But while Liddell was a devout Scottish Protestant who wouldn’t run on Sunday, Deutsch is an Orthodox Jew who won’t run on Shabbat. Shiryn Ghermezian writes:

Deutsch, a New Jersey native and mother of five who moved to Israel in 2008, explained in a Facebook post on Wednesday that she qualified for the World Athletics Championships Budapest 2023. However, the women’s marathon is scheduled for a Saturday, making it impossible for Deutsch to participate.

“I have kept Shabbat my entire life and it’s a mitzvah I cherish dearly,” Deutsch said in her Facebook post. “I never imagined myself even contemplating otherwise, and yet for the first time in my life I found myself feeling pressure to compete on Shabbat.”

“I was extremely disappointed but there was nothing I could do,” said Deutsch, thirty-five, who is a previous winner of the Tiberias Marathon and the Jerusalem Marathon. [She] added that even after the Olympics were rescheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic, “they still refused to make any religious accommodations (although they had done so in the past when Ramadan coincided with the London Olympics).”

Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Judaism, Sabbath, Sports

When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount