Although this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo are now several weeks behind us, it bears repeating that they were a mega-success for Israel. There have never been more Olympic medals for the small Jewish state.
Gymnast Linoy Ashram achieved the greatest triumph when the 22-year-old Israeli won the gold medal in the individual finals of rhythmic gymnastics. In so doing, she pushed the Russian all-around world champion Dina Awerina into second place.
For the Russians, this was the first defeat in rhythmic gymnastics in 20 years. Israel had effectively usurped their throne. The Russians protested and accused the Olympic judges of “dirty politics.” In the Russian media and social networks, the Israeli Olympic champion was attacked with political and even antisemitic allegations. It is a sport that belongs to the Russians, and no one else should be at the top.
This reminds me of much in Jewish and Israeli history. Israel is always accused of taking what it is not allowed to take. For this Israel has been hated, cursed, persecuted and killed throughout history. When the people of Israel returned to their biblical homeland a hundred years ago and again founded a Jewish state in 1948, Israel was hated and warred against for it. As if Israel were not allowed to pursue its claim to the Promised Land. And today people act as if Linoy Ashram has no right to the gold medal, at least from a Russian point of view.
In the history of the Church, which in part still shapes the Western world today, Israel has been accused for almost two thousand years of killing the Messiah. Israel lost its right and claim to its biblical role as the chosen people. Hatred, antisemitism and persecution were the result.
Wherever Israel is not allowed to have rights, it is routinely hated and persecuted for generations. This phenomenon is today exposed in a variety of ways, as in the Olympic tension between Israel and Russia.
But you know what, this is nothing new. We are doing well in spite of all circumstances, although the world is not going through an easy time. We are all the more grateful for each and every one of you who defends Israel’s right to exist and stands by us.