Saturday, August 21, 2004
Of boycotts and sport
The Friday edition of the Wall Street Journal has an interesting piece by Franklin Foer.
In conjunction with a recently released translation of a Saudi military journal by MEMRI, we can plainly see th doublespeak engaged in by the Saudis and for that matter, much of the Arab world.
Foer plainly states that,
"Rather than compete against an Israeli, Arash Miresmaeili quit the Olympics entirely. As the jukoda told the Iranian government's official news service: "I refuse to fight my Israeli opponent to sympathize with the suffering of the people of Palestine, and I do not feel upset at all." His one-man boycott earned him encomiums from President Mohammad Khatami. According to reports, the Iranians planned on rewarding Mr. Miresmaeili with $115,000, the purse handed out to gold medalists."
Foer goes on to say that
"Ever since Israel's founding, some Muslim nations have refused to compete against the Jewish state...... Even the mentally impaired have suffered this exclusion. At last year's Special Olympics in Ireland, both Saudi Arabia and Algeria refused to play Israel in soccer and table tennis."
"Not surprisingly, Saudi Arabia has been one of the leading proponents of the boycott. In 2002, Prince Sultan signed a letter endorsing an Arab Football Federation proposal to ban Israeli competition in all international soccer matches."
There it it. It's a matter of politics, right? It's a matter of principle and solidarity with the Palestinians, no more than that.
Well, not so fast. The just released MEMRI translation of "A journal titled "Al-Jundi Al-Muslim" (The Muslim Soldier), which is published by the Religious Affairs Department of the Saudi armed forces, published an antisemitic article in its "Know Your Enemy" section. The article was written by Ma'ashu Muhammad and was titled "The Jews in the Modern Era."
The title of the article, "The Jews in the Modern Era." is very telling in that the article was published in the section, "Know Your Enemy,". I'm only repeating that for emphasis. Mea Culpa.
In addition to the standard anti semitic diatribe (that the Saudis will insist is 'misunderstood' as Wahabbi Islam is really the 'Religion of Peace and Tolerance'), the journal article also makes the following observation:
"The Masonic, Crusader, nationalist propaganda produced in the Jewish factories of intrigue succeeded..."
In other words, it's not just the Jews that are enemies of islam. It is now the Christians- Europeans, Americans, etc., that are now equally culpable in defaming Islam and as such, are as equal an enemy as the Jews.
Which is it, then? Is the Saudi led Arab boycott of Israel a political or religious matter? If it is a political matter only, then why the religious diatribe against "The people of the Book"-- Jews and Christians? (This isn't the first diatribe against Christians and Jews emanating from Saudi sources, only the most recent in a long list.)
If the Saudi led boycott of Israel is purely anti Semitic (and anti Christian) in nature, as the MEMRI's translation would indicate, how sincere are efforts to produce a Middle East peace? Was the 'Saudi Proposal,' released in Beirut a few years ago, no more than a PR gambit to make the Saudis look good in Washington and elsewhere? Why are we, and for that matter, the Israelis, wasting time dealing with agents of hatred who will never give up a religiously mandated hatred?
They can't have it both ways and we can't ignore what it is they're saying. If, in their own words, they say they hate us, well, let's just take them at their word.
Why shouldn't we?
Foer writes in his WSJ editorial that as,
"the event's organizers constantly remind the world, they are a festival of
humanity, a great coming together, the one moment when the planet gathers in a friendly spirit of healthy competition...there is ample talk of the "Olympic movement," a phrase intended to highlight these aspirations."
Apparently that just isn't true. The Arab/Islamic world isn't coming together at the Olympics and that has nothing to do with politics. Israel is just the vehicle du jour that justifies reprehensible Arab behavior.
The Saudi's themselves are advising their own, "know your enemy"- and we are included among their stated enemies. That the Saudi's and the Arab world are using the Olympics as a venue to 'participate' and 'come together' is no more than an exercise in deceit. They deceive their own populations by showing how much of what they believe and say, are indeed part of the mainstream. We are willing dupes by allowing them such outrageous latitudes- and we are deceiving ourselves by excusing such behavior.
As for Yasser Arafat, leader of the cause celebre that supposedly justifies the boycott of Israel, well, his reaction to a Saudi who boycotted Israel, says it best.
As written by Mr. Foer in the WSJ:
"In addition to the great support I received from (Saudi) government
officials, residents and expatriates, I have received a special certificate from the Palestinian President Yasser Arafat that I'm very proud of," Mr. Al Magahwi told a news conference."
"Nabeel Al-Magahwi refused to play an Israeli at the 2003 world
table-tennis championship in Paris"