The facts are not in dispute.
On Friday, the Lebanese delegation to the 2016 Olympic Games refused to allow Israeli athletes to travel on a shared bus heading to the opening ceremonies in Rio. Some Lebanese athletes physically blocked the door to prevent Israeli athletes from boarding the bus. The organizers evidently wanted to avoid an international incident and so sent the Israelis to a different bus.
The International Olympic Committee later reprimanded the Lebanese delegation for their behavior – which was clearly antithetical to the Olympic Charter and the spirit of the games – and stressed that “they would not accept any further instances like this” from the Lebanese.
So, how did the Daily Mail frame the story of Lebanese athletes refusing to ride on a bus with Israelis in their Aug. 6 AFP story?
The headline not only obfuscates the racism and intolerance at the heart of the row, but uses neutral language (“competes” for the bus) which obscures the fact that this was a shared bus with enough room for both Israeli and Lebanese athletes. The word “compete” makes it sound as if there was only enough room for one team, and both parties were trying to gain exclusive access.
Additionally, though most publications played up the ‘tension’ over the 2006 Lebanon war as a cause of the ‘tension’ on the bus, it should be noted that an ADL global poll showed that 78% of Lebanese hold antisemitic views – consistent with broader results demonstrating that the Middle East is by far the most antisemitic part of the world.
This one Daily Mail headline is certainly misleading, but not nearly as misleading as the widespread media narrative suggesting that boycotts and other forms of exclusion directed towards the Jewish state – and only the Jewish state – are ‘merely’ targeting Israelis (for political reasons) and not Jews qua Jews (for racist reasons).
This one specific distortion concerning what in fact occurred in Rio between Lebanese and Israelis in this particular instance seems necessarily connected to the larger widespread distortion over what has truly animated Arab animosity towards Jews over the decades.
Editor’s Note: We wish to make clear that Daily Mail used the original headline by Agence France Presse (AFP)