“I am nothing without them”: What the Guardian will never understand

Today, Aug. 13, the Guardian’s Olympic coverage included a photo piece titled ‘The best body art – in pictures‘.

Among the 28 athletes shown in the display was Brazilian shot putter Geisa Arcanjo, whose tattoo translates to: ‘Live with passion, win with courage’.

However, I noticed that one iconic photo of an Olympic athlete’s body art was missing.

French swimmer Fabien Gilot’s team won a surprising gold medal in the 4×100 meter Freestyle Relay, and the following photo, taken after the race, was disseminated widely in the media.

It reads: אני כלום בלעדיהם – which in English means “I am nothing without them.”

The story behind the tattoo is remarkable.

Per journalist Adam Chandler:

Gilot’s grandmother married a man named Max Goldschmidt, who, despite not being Gilot’s grandfather, occupied that very particularly influential role for Gilot.

Goldschmidt grew up in Berlin and survived Auschwitz before moving to France and meeting Gilot’s grandmother after the war. According to Gilot’s father Michel, Goldschmidt was an inspirational figure to Gilot, witnessing many of Gilot’s athletic triumphs and prompting Gilot to get his now-famous tattoo in tribute to this grandfather figure. Goldschmidt did not get to see Gilot win the gold this week, he passed away earlier this year.

Interestingly, the Guardian’s coverage of Gilot’s victory included a photo which, to some degree, revealed his tattoo yet the story didn’t allude to it in any manner.

As I was thinking of how best to frame this post it occurred to me that a common observation at this blog pertains to the obsessive nature of the Guardian’s coverage of Israel and, often, Jews qua Jews.  So, it’s therefore quite interesting when they avoid subjects of Jewish concern.

While the most disturbing issue related to world Jewry they avoid is antisemitism (particularly in the Islamic and Arab world), and the Guardian’s omission of this photo by no means represents an egregious example of bias, it’s still curious that such an inspiring Jewish story either didn’t pique their interest or eluded their journalistic radar.

The prolific Middle East Analyst Barry Rubin once shared a note on his Facebook wall which seemed to represent an open letter of sorts to those aligned against Israel and the Jewish people.  Though I can’t do the power of his prose justice, Rubin explained that he wasn’t just fighting for his family, his nation and the Jewish people, but for the generations which came before him who fought and sacrificed for their mere survival with courage, and a fealty to their way of life, scarcely recognizable to most today in the affluent West.

It was as if Rubin was asking: Do today’s enemies of the Jews really think he’s going to let his brave Jewish ancestors down and succumb to their malign obsession?

What Rubin seemed to be suggesting was that he is “nothing without them”, and everything with them: Inspiration for a one Jewish athlete, and a incalculable factor in the inexplicable endurance of the Jewish people. 

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