Sunday, August 14, 2016

Mondoweiss pretends to do some reporting:
Last month we interviewed Mary al Atrash, a 22-year-old swimmer from Beit Sahour in the West Bank who was part of the largest delegation Palestine has ever sent to the Olympic Games.

She told us about her difficulties to train in a swimming pool that does not match the Olympic standards, and explained that although she technically lives close to Jerusalem, where such swimming pools, exist, she could not go there to train.

After our story was published, a controversy started: Israeli authorities explained that Mary never applied for a permit to train in Jerusalem.

After COGAT –the Israeli Ministry of Defense organization coordinating civil affairs between Palestinians and Israelis in the Palestinian territories- published a statement saying Mary al Atrash never applied for a permit to train in Jerusalem, we contacted Mary and the organizations that supervise her training such as the Palestinian Swimming Federation and the Palestine Olympic Committee.

Indeed, it seems that Mary never applied for a permit, and neither did a lot of other Palestinian athletes. They explain this situation by emphasizing their movement restrictions. They say they can be stopped at any point while going from one place to another and therefore don’t feel safe moving from one city to another. They also mention that roads or checkpoints are sometimes closed which implies a chance of wasting time that they could use to train.

The Palestinian Swimming Federation stressed “the difficulties, that all the athletes face, to enter Jerusalem for training” and that “permits are for a limited time” and that athletes still have to go “through checkpoints” even if they have a permit to train in Jerusalem which makes their situation unstable and puts them at risk of wasting their training time.
So that is the new narrative - that Palestinian athletes all decided that it is too risky to train in Israel because of the chance that they will be delayed?

Somehow, tens of thousands of Palestinian Arabs manage to enter Israel every day, work for an average of 7 hours, and go home. But if you are to believe this article, Palestinian Olympic hopefuls don't have the same drive to succeed as the average construction worker.

Too bad that Mondoweiss didn't bother reading, or actively ignored, the tweet from Reuters' Luke Baker where he said explicitly that Palestinian (leaders) oppose letting athletes train in Israel.

I would point to the tweet itself, but it has been deleted. Apparently the narrative of the Palestinians as only victims and without any responsibility for their own destinies was too strong for a Reuters reporter to admit otherwise, even though that admission was to defend a story that implied that Israel had banned the al-Atrash, not her own people.

However, looking at the webpage for all Palestinian sports news, one can see that the idea of "normalization" with Israel is a very big taboo. For example, this article rails against any attempts by Israeli sports federations to work together with Palestinians. There are no articles that argue that Palestinian athletes should cooperate with Israelis in any form.

Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, has said himself that "there will be no normalization - will not normalize with Israel because we are under occupation and the Israelis do not recognize the Palestinian sports entity ....We defend our national cause and will not relent...The occupation is the enemy number one of Palestinian sport....the occupation seeks to besiege our people including by preventing movement of the athletes..."

How can Rajoub keep saying that if Israel allows his athletes to train in Israel? Much easier to ban his athletes from training and then blaming Israel for it!

To Rajoub, Mondoweiss is a reliable propaganda outlet that will parrot, without any skepticism, the idea that Israel is the reason why Palestinians cannot train in Israel. It is simply not true. Reuters knows it, Rajoub knows it, and Mary al Atrash knows it. But that narrative simply doesn't fit the agenda of Reuters, the PLO and Mondoweiss.

The deleted Reuters tweet also says volumes about how Reuters prefers narratives to truth.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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