Israeli deserves gold medal for sportmanship
Israeli deserves gold medal for sportmanship

Israel’s judoka Or Sasson came away with the bronze, but for goodwill, he won pure gold.

His Egyptian opponent, Islam El Shebaby, lost the event twice, first for being taken down by Sasson, and then for refusing to shake Sasson’s extended hand. What was the Egyptian thinking? If he intended to score political points, the effort backfired swiftly and with a bang.

What symbolism! In that moment everything was revealed – the Arab-Israeli conflict in a nutshell.

In that moment everything was revealed – the Arab-Israeli conflict in a nutshell.
The crowd, which understands the etiquette of judo and related sports, jeered its disapproval at a gesture so small.

Finally, the Egyptian offered the traditional bow, but the original display of disrespect earned him the ire of an entire world.

The ripple effect is still making its way from headline to headline and throughout the Internet as the image of that snub is greeted with displeasure.

Nobody likes a sorehead.

Sometimes a simple act of bad manners can loom larger than an act of terror. It offers a snapshot of the big picture.

Common decency transcends politics and enough people still value such everyday gestures that separate us from the beasts.

If we lose the simplest and most basic exchanges of humanity – what’s next?

Israel came out on top, yes, for Sasson’s bronze, as well as Yarden Gerbi’s bronze, two for Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu and the rest of Israel offered exuberant salutations. But there was something else, something bigger than the game.

Sasson stood tall, for himself, for the sport, for decency, for sportsmanship – and certainly for his country.

For that one sportsmanlike moment on the mat, he earned his country the good reputation it so often deserves and is too often denied.

His hand was the hand of peace. He extended it gladly, impulsively. In this way he expressed his country and his culture.

After the match, and holding no grudges, Sasson said:

"I'm proud of our country, happy for the entire Nation of Israel. I still can't really comprehend the greatness of the accomplishment.”

Also, “I want to dedicate this medal to the entire People of Israel.”

He also sent a bigger message. He won the heart of a heartless world for a moment that will last far beyond these Olympics.

How typical of an Israeli to turn bronze into gold.

New York-based bestselling American novelist Jack Engelhard writes a regular column for Arutz Sheva. New from the novelist: “News Anchor Sweetheart,” a novelist’s version of Fox News and Megyn Kelly. Engelhard is the author of the international bestseller “Indecent Proposal.” He is the recipient of the Ben Hecht Award for Literary Excellence. Website: