Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Throwing for Palestine

athletics / gestures / symbolic
This didn't grab many headlines outside of Greece, but I find it the most moving Olympics-related news item to date:
Sophia Sakorafa, the former world record holder in the Javelin Throw (in 1982), has announced her wish to represent Palestine in these coming Olympics, as a gesture of solidarity to the Palestinian people. Being 47 today, of course, she has little chance of winning a medal, but as far as symbolism is concerned she has already won the admiration of many in Greece (and I presume for their positive reactions in Palestine too).
Given that Greece is, anyway, very likely to medal (with Mirela Maniani) in the women's Javelin Throw, the event is bound to capture a lot of attention this summer.

1 comment:

talos said...

old comments


Came across this in theJerusalem Post

Official Olympics website doesn't list Israel's capital

Greek Olympic officials have not listed Jerusalem as Israel's capital city on the official website for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games (
The entry opposite the heading 'capital' is marked with an asterisk figure (*) instead.
A footnote, at the bottom of the webpage, reads: * Please visit the official United Nations website for further information regarding the capital of Israel.

The comment provides a web link to a United Nations fact file on Israel, which also doesn't list the Jewish State as having a Capital, but instead writes: "The position of the United Nations on the question of Jerusalem is contained in General Assembly Resolution 181 (II) of 29 November 1947."
Some months ago, the website had 'Jerusalem' down as the capital of 'Palestine', while Israel's capital slot was left empty. Following complaints lodged by National Union MK Arye Eldad with the Greek Embassy and Foreign Ministry, Israel's capital was entered as 'Tel Aviv', leaving the Palestinian slot blank.
At this point, the Foreign Ministry approached the organizers of the Olympics, reaching a compromise by which both the Israeli and Palestinian capitals would be omitted from the register.
Foreign Minister Deputy Spokesman David Saranga said that by this step, he views the matter as closed. Pressed, he said that the affair was still under inquiry, and that it was really a matter for the Israeli Olympic Committee.
The committee, for its part, said the issue was strictly a diplomatic one, to be dealt with by the Foreign Ministry.
Another Foreign Ministry official pointed out that it is not only the Athens Olympic site that doesn't recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, but rather the vast majority of the world, including the US. But, he pointed out, it was important to make clear that Tel Aviv is not the nation's capital.
The official said that the Foreign Ministry doesn't intend to pursue the case any further, and that there are more important issues to press with the organizers of Olympics.
One such issue, he said, is a request that there be some kind of commemoration during the games of the 11 Israelis killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics. One idea was for a moment of silence during the Games' opening ceremony, an idea that has so far been refused by the organizers of the Games.
The Greek Ambassador was unavailable for comment.
MK Arye Eldad, who first drew attention to the affair, says it is by no means settled.
"This is no compromise," he said. "It is a diplomatic humiliation.
"No self-respecting country in the world would put up with such an arrangement Palestine is not a state, and therefore – has no capital. Israel, on the other hand, IS a state, and has a capital which the Greek are refusing to recognize."
According to Eldad, not enough has been done by the Foreign Ministry to rectify the situation.
"There are various diplomatic steps Israel could take, if it really wanted to. The Greeks are, after all, very interested in reversing their country's anti-Semitic reputation. The government is obviously satisfied with the present arrangement."
Eldad added, that if all diplomatic intervention fails, Israel should consider boycotting the games. "If this is the situation, I don't want to see Israel's flag flying in Athens," he said.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report

2004-05-15 00:10

I'm still amazed that the Jerusalem Post is still amazed that no other country in the world beyond Israel and the USA recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (and Costa Rica and El Salvador). For that matter it's impressive that an Israeli equivalent of Lepen's party (the far right "National Union" party to which Eldad belongs) is taken seriously at all…
Let me point out the facts:
"Tel Aviv-Yafo (תל אביב-יפו) is a coastal city and also a metropolitan area in Israel. For a period of 8 months (May through December 1948) until the seizure of Jerusalem it also served as the de facto capital of Israel. Though Israel subsequently designated Jerusalem to be its capital, that designation was regarded as a breach of international law and not accepted by the diplomatic community (with just two exceptions) nor by any international state organisations, all of whom continue to regard Tel Aviv as the de jure Israeli capital, as a result basing all their embassies and consulates there. The Congress of the United States recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, but the president was given permission to prevent the moving of the US embassy from Tel Aviv. "

2004-05-15 17:49
Young Fogey:

The reason why there's shock about this is because the Israeli right is shocked that the rest of us haven't recognised Israel's series of illegal land grabs. The solution is simple - make peace with the Palestinians, and we'll happily recognise West Jerusalem as your capital!

Good for the javelinist, though.

2004-05-17 23:27

When did it become popular to define anti-semetism as critisicsm of Israeli policy? In the future will they brand people as nazis for speaking out against Israel?

I wonder if Sharon is intentionally escalating the violence in Gaza to get his way, a kind of "this is the hell you get for not wanting to withdraw". It's insane the likudniks didnt want to leave, what exactly is the plan for a strip of land with over a million Palestinians? Do they just enjoy being colonizers? I can see occupying the West Bank because of more land to "settle". But what good does having Gaza do? Their plan to leave still gives them rights to air space, and to raid houses whenever they feel like it so why not get rid of a headache?

2004-05-18 12:13