The Olympic Movement’s pledge to build “a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit” is all well and good, but they’re not gonna trick the Malaysian government into getting soft on Israel, dammit.
That’s the message seemingly being sent by this week’s confirmation that Israeli athletes are indeed banned from competing in this year’s World Para Swimming Championships in Kuching, Sarawak.
Yes, the same regulations that keep Nas Daily and Red Axes from visiting our shores, and us from a Tel Aviv falafel, are also at play in the banishment of Israeli para athletes from competing.
Malaysia’s government does not recognize the state of Israel, and have had a travel ban on its citizens entering the country for decades.
A coalition of NGOs, largely focused on the Palestinian issue, offered words of support for the government’s decision in a statement issued yesterday:
“Boycotting and isolating Israel is the very least that can and should be done to express moral outrage. If it worked against apartheid South Africa, it will work against apartheid Israel.
“The Malaysian Government is doing the right thing in barring Israelis from this country.“
Among the NGOs are Palestinian Cultural Organization Malaysia, Viva Palestina Malaysia, al-Quds Foundation Malaysia, Humanitarian Care Malaysia and ASEAN Coalition for Palestine.
Clearly anticipating our reference to high-minded Olympic ideals, the coalition added:
“Before anyone spews any nonsense about sports and politics not mixing, he or she would do well to remember that in the Great Return March, 241 civilians, including 42 children under 18, five women, three paramedics, two journalists were killed, and 26,140 others injured, almost all by Israeli sharpshooters.”
And so it goes kids — just like that, getting those breakfast pastries at the Abu Lafia Bakery in Jaffa becomes but a sugar-coated, honey-dipped, pistachio covered dream.
The two countries have had no official diplomatic relations since Malaysia’s independence, despite the fact that Israel supported Malaysia’s bid for UN membership, and had previously tried to establish low-level diplomacy between the two.
Just like turning down that Tinder date you’re not really into, and that your friends don’t like, Malaysia told Israel “thanks, but no thanks.”
A temporary glastnost between the two in the early ’90s was followed by positively ice-age levels of chilly relations, with then-Prime Minister Mahathir accusing Israeli Zionist agents of undermining Malaysia’s integrity, Islam, and also our currency.