Olympic trials

Security will be tight for the duration of the Olympic Games, but members of the Israeli delegation will be under especially rigorous protection.

Olympic Team 2012 (370) (photo credit: Courtesy)
Olympic Team 2012 (370)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The 30th Olympic Games of the modern era kick off in London on Friday and the Israeli delegation of 37 athletes competing in eight sports has already arrived.
Unfortunately, the excitement in Israel surrounding the Games has been tempered by increased concerns over security. Besides the fact that this summer’s Olympics marks the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre – conjuring up memories of Israelis’ vulnerability – there is real concern that Iran, Israel’s latest archenemy, will target an Israeli athlete.
The Sunday Times might have exaggerated when it reported over the weekend that Israel has dispatched special Mossad agents to European capitals where members of Iran’s Quds Force – the Islamic Republic’s international terrorism cadre – are known to be working out of embassies. (Maj.-Gen. Amos Gilad (res.), Defense Ministry director of policy and political-military affairs, characterized the Times’ report as “literary descriptions taken out of spy novels.”) Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that while there was no specific intelligence information on a planned attack, he acknowledged that major events such as the Olympics “attract” terrorist plots and pointed to the 11 members of the Israeli delegation murdered by Palestinians at the Munich Olympics as evidence.
Further stoking fears of a terrorist attack is the possibility that Wednesday’s bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria, which left six innocent people dead – five of whom were Israeli – was a harbinger of more Islamist-inspired violence against Israelis and Jews living or traveling abroad.
The Burgas attack came after about 20 recent fumbled or foiled attempts by the Islamic Republic to kill Israelis, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.
British security officials are not taking any chances.
Security will be tight for the duration of the Olympic Games, but members of the Israeli delegation will be under especially rigorous protection. For their own protection, a closed-off section of the Olympic village, separated from the other athletes and described as “sterile” by Efraim Zinger, head of the delegation to London, has been reserved for the Israelis.
“Munich was like a summer camp compared to this,” Zinger told Army Radio. “It feels like an army base here.”
Meanwhile, pressure is building for the so-far intransigent International Olympic Committee to hold an official moment of silence at the Games for the Munich victims.
President Barack Obama joined the US Senate, the German Bundestag, the Canadian and Australian parliaments and about 50 members of the British Parliament in supporting the observance of a minute of silence.
In another Olympic-related development, the Prime Minister’s Office is trying to get the BBC to recognize that Israel, like all other countries participating in the Games, has a full-fledged capital. Until recently, the BBC’s listing of countries participating in the Olympics included Israel, but did not include Jerusalem as the capital.
After a complaint from the Prime Minister’s Office, the BBC grudgingly agreed to mention Jerusalem as “seat of government” while adding that “most foreign embassies are in Tel Aviv.”
The founders of the State of Israel hoped that the creation of a country for the Jewish people would in some normalize their status. No longer would Jews be forced to be hosted by a country that ostensibly belonged to another people. One of the trappings of this normalization process is participation in the Olympic Games.
Indeed, when Israel debuted at the Helsinki Games in 1952, there was undoubtedly a feeling that Israel in some small way become like all the nations.
But anti-Semitism and rabidly anti-Israel sentiments that pervade the international community cause Israel to be singled out. Israelis are subject to uniquely stringent security arrangements; their country’s capital is only half-heartedly recognized by some; and they must be subjected to the humiliating refusal on the part of the International Olympic Committee to hold a simple one-minute commemoration that, like the recognition of a capital, would probably have been granted to any “normal” country.
We can only hope that before anti-Semitism and irrational hatred of Israel pass from the world, the BBC and the IOC will regain their senses.