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Olympic athletes represent the real Arab attitude towards Israel

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Two Arab athletes at the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games made headlines when they pulled out rather than participate alongside their Israeli counterparts. A third, however, was celebrated by the occupation state.

Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine withdrew rather than fight against Israel's Tohar Butbul. Then Sudan's Mohamed Abdalrasool did the same thing when the draw also meant he had to face Butbul. However, on Friday, Saudi Arabian judoka Tahani Al-Qahtani went ahead and fought her Israeli counterpart Raz Hershko.

There had been many calls for Al-Qahtani to take the same stand as Nourine and Abdalrasool, but she was encouraged to compete with the Israeli athlete. She lost.

When he announced his withdrawal, Nourine made it clear that he did so in solidarity with Palestine, which remains under Israel's brutal military occupation. "We worked a lot to reach the Olympics," he explained, "but the Palestinian cause is bigger than all of this."

Nourine knew that this would lead the International Judo Foundation (IJF) to punish him, but he went ahead anyway. "I was waiting for punishment from the IJF," he told Al Jazeera TV. "I am sending a message to the world in solidarity with Palestine. I do not want the name of my country to be accompanied by the name of the Zionist state."

His coach Amar Benikhlef was courageous enough to support the withdrawal. "We were not lucky with the draw," he told the Algerian media. "We got an Israeli opponent and that's why we had........

© Middle East Monitor

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