My wife was reading the Sochi Winter Olympics website looking to see if Israel had any athletes in the games, but was unable to find that country in the list of participating nations. I noticed that she had clicked on the map of Asia. I told her, confidently, click on Europe. She did and there was Israel nestled, to her astonishment, between Ireland and Italy, not between The Islamic Republic of Iran and Japan where one would expect.
Israel is a country that has always participated in European competitions and been part of European leagues. Israeli singers compete in the Eurovision song contest. Israel is a member of the European zone in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and is grouped with European countries in the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) .
In fact FIFA not only lists Israel specifically as being part of the continent of Europe, but the FIFA website lists Jerusalem as its capital. (See graphic below.) According to UN Resolution 478, which was passed in 1980, Israel’s Jerusalem law which declares that city the undivided capital of the state is in violation of international law. No nation has its Israel embassy in Jerusalem.
Why is Israel in these European competitions and federations and not with the other Asian countries? I imagine it had something to do with Israel’s history of hostile relations with the Arab and Muslim nations in the Asian continent. But it also must be because the Israelis preferred to be considered part of Europe and wanted to separate themselves from what they considered to be an inferior Middle Eastern culture.
Israelis, who were born in Europe or are descendants of Europeans, always identified with that continent. Many of the founders of the state imagined the Jewish settlement project as a colonial extension of Europe. Ironically, many Israelis are neither European nor Western in origin. Probably a majority of Israel citizens, when you include the indigenous Palestinian population, are actually what is known as Eastern in Israel. That is from North Africa or Asia. Of course, when you count the occupied territories Israel is overwhelmingly non-European.
Israel is an exceptional nation in its flouting of the rules the rest of the world follows. It violates international law with impunity so why would anyone object to the Jewish state being part of Europe if that is what it desires? Well, maybe the world community should start looking into the impunity that Israel is given.
It is apparently difficult to force Tel Aviv to admit to its nuclear arsenal, to withdraw from the Palestinian land it occupies or to renounce its claim to Jerusalem as its undivided and eternal capital. Maybe the world could start addressing Israeli injustice and exceptionalism by, at least, requesting that it recognize itself not as a Jewish state, or a European nation, but as a part of Asia where it is located.
It has often been suggested that in order for Israel to live in peace with its neighbors it must become an active member of the Middle East community of nations.
Participating in competitions with other Asian nations would be a good beginning.
The Israelis at Sochi
Ever since the mass immigration from the former Soviet Union to Israel in the 90s brought world class skaters to the Jewish state, Israel has been participating in the Winter Olympics. The team this year, as usual, is all Jewish and all foreign-born. This is not surprising since there is no real winter in Israel. The Israeli team at Sochi consists of three Ukrainians, a Belgian and an American, participating in figure skating, speed skating and alpine skiing.
I am following the pairs figure skating team of Evgeni Krasnopolski and Andrea Davidovich. They struggled in the competition (see results here and here), but ice skating is not so Jewish thus just being in the Olympics is impressive.
Davidovich who is only 16 was born in Vermont. She appears to be at the beginning of a successful Olympic career.
P.S. The growing outrageousness of Israeli demands and the increasing willingness of Western nations to appease the desires of the Jewish State leads me to imagine reporting something like the following soon.
Controversy over the slalom competition
Last month, the Israel Skiing Association petitioned the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to change the name of all slalom events.
According to the Israelis, the event was invented in biblical times by the Samaritans and it was called shalom racing. The Samaritans held annual competitions on Mount Gerizim, which Israeli geologists say, was snow covered in winter in the days long before the onset of global warming. It is claimed that the Samaritans and the Judeans participated in events called shalom, giant shalom and super gimmel.
The IOC initially rejected the Israel name change suggestion but has taken a more conciliatory approach toward the issue after a number of Jewish donors telephoned to suggest that not recognizing the original name of the event has the feint odor of anti-Semitism.
The IOC while rejecting the name change for 2014, said it will appoint a commission to study the issue and make recommendations for future games. Israel is insisting that an Israeli be part of the commission. The Israelis also are participating in the Alpine events at Sochi under protest because of the IOC’s refusal to change slalom to shalom.