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Olympic-sized Israeli lies

Photo of Israeli forces blocking access to the Qibli Mosque inside the Al-Aqsa Compound, in preparation for a potential raid within the mosque building. Image taken on June 26, 2016
File photo of Israeli forces blocking access to the Qibli Mosque inside the Al-Aqsa Compound, in preparation for a potential raid within the mosque building. Image taken on June 26, 2016

Israel rarely fails to take opportunities in international fora to present itself as a “normal” state just like any other. “Brand Israel” propaganda regularly indulges in such distractions in order to distract the world media from the realities of its crimes.

Since these are legion, great effort must be expended.

Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are illegal under international law, as well as being immoral by any reasonable definition. Palestinians in the West Bank live under direct military occupation, with a repressive system of checkpoints, movement restrictions, colonial Jewish settlements which they are banned from living in and arbitrary military diktat as a system of laws.

Israeli colonists living in the same areas on the other hand are subjected to Israeli civilian law. Thus, the Palestinians in the West Bank can be factually said to live under a system of apartheid, as defined in various United Nations definitions of the word (which were never restricted to South Africa alone). And so, while there are many parallels between the current reality of Israeli apartheid and the late South African apartheid regime (as well as some key differences) defining the Israeli occupation regime as “apartheid” is a simple factual question, not merely an analogy.

More fundamentally, Israel’s foundation was achieved only by literally wiping another nation – Palestine – off the map. Fanatical armed Zionist gangs expelled some 750,000 Palestinians by force, slaughtering thousands of them. The refugees have never been permitted to return home till this day – the greatest injustice of this conflict.

Furthermore, since its inception on the ashes of Palestine and on top of the mass graves of the Palestinians, Israel has initiated wars with every single one of its neighbours, and conducts similar acts of aggression every few years.

Such fundamental facts are left by the wayside when Israeli propaganda gets into gear.

One of the latest examples was an incident between the Israeli and Lebanese Olympics teams.

Despite there reportedly being plenty of buses laid on to transport each team from their accommodation to the stadium where they would compete, the Israeli team apparently insisted on boarding the Lebanese team’s bus. The head of the Lebanese delegation reportedly said he could see the Israelis were “were trying to force their way through and were looking for trouble” and so he blocked the door and barred them from entering.

The Israeli team had a rather different account of what happened, and such media reports as there were generally took their lead from the Israeli point of view.

Regardless, there’s no question that the way Israeli officials then exploited the incident was entirely cynical. The height of this hypocrisy were the words of their sports minister Miri Regev, who claimed the incident was an example of anti-Semitism and “the worst kind of racism”.

Considering that Israel has invaded Lebanon several times (most recently during the war of aggression in 2006) killing tens of thousands of Lebanese people, as well as Palestinian refugees (mostly civilians) it is no surprise that that Lebanese athletes wanted to steer clear of the Israelis in Rio.

Regev, it will be recalled, is the same person who in 2012 (when she was not yet a minister and was only a member of parliament in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party) disgustingly slandered African migrants in the country as a “cancer”.

After her comments were translated to English, went viral and were criticised around the world, Regev made an apology – but not to African migrants. Instead, she doubled-down on her extreme racism and apologised to cancer patients for comparing them to Africans: “I apologize and I surely did not intend to hurt either Holocaust survivors or cancer patients.” In a bizarre video released on Facebook, she apologised that she had implied Africans were even human: “Heaven forbid, I did not talk about human beings and I did not compare them to human beings. If someone feels hurt by that statement, or understood my statement incorrectly, or if my statement were incorrectly interpreted, I apologize for this.”

Such racism is now endemic in Israeli society, and it is yet another sign of a growing fascism in Israel that after such remarks, Regev was elevated to an important ministry.

Another Israeli lie around the Olympics was the case of Mary al-Atrash, a swimmer on the Palestinian Olympic team. After she mentioned in press interviews the severe impediments Israeli occupation had caused to her training regime, blocking her from accessing Olympic-sized swimming pools in Jerusalem, Israeli propagandists went into a strop.

At first, the Jerusalem Post (taking it’s lead from a statement from COGAT, the Israeli occupation entity in the West Bank) accused al-Atrash of “stretching of the truth” and claimed there were Olympic-sized pools in the West Bank she could have used anyway. After this was contradicted by Reuters and other media, the Post eventually had to concede it was wrong – there were no such pools in the West Bank.

Not the first time Israeli lies have been Olympic-sized lies.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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