The Olympic Games
(A photo representing the ancient Olympic games)
The Olympic games can be seen as early as 776 B.C. with only one event and very few participants in the land of the Spartans. Slowly, but surely numerous events and participants were added until it became the world renowned competition that it is today. The first real Olympics (as they are known today) took place in 1896 in Athens, in the Panatheniac Stadium. The Olympics are now every two years, one in the winter and one in the summer. There are 386 events in 35 sports in both Olympics combined. Participants from just about every country (including Israel) are represented. This is a world wide cultural event.
At the start of the Olympic games in the early B.C. era Israel did not participate nor did they agree with the ideals that the Olympics were based on. To them athletics were seen as evil because they went against the Jewish belief of idol worshipping. As well, they included rough sports that appeared more like combat in war than athletics. It took many decades before Israel was involved in competitive sporting at all. As of today, sports in Israel is an active past time for just about every individual.
(Team Israel marching in at the opening ceromonies)
Israel's first Olympic Games were the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. Israel brought a small team and did not win any medals. This is not to say it had no effect on the country. Participating in the world renowned Olympic Games allowed Israel to come together as one Country. They were now able to spread their culture and nationalistic pride with the world. In turn the rest of the world could see them in a different light than the negative one that seems to surround it in the media.
Not each Olympic was smooth sailing for this new, small country fighting for world respect. The Olympic committee was trying to set a friendly atmosphere due to all the anti-Semitism seen in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and because of the horrific Holocaust images that still resonated in the minds of everyone. In participating in the Olympic Games the Israelis were making a statement of defiance. Nothing was going to hold them back until 1972 when 11 Israeli athletes were killed by a Palestinian organization, Black September, at the Olympic Games in Munich. Many of the athletes had parents and family members perish in the Holocaust and so this murder sent a message that maybe the fight is not yet over.
(The 11 victims of the Munich Games)
Luckily after many years Israel has still managed to not back down and has begun to gain the respect they deserve. In the recent 1992 Summer Olympics in Spain, the Israeli's won their first ever medal. They won a silver and a bronze, both in the Judo event. After everything Israel has dealt with, the triumph at these games were beyond incredible. It brought a sense of closure and accomplishment to Israeli's every where. The country as a whole was able to come together as one and watch as their small country leveled with the hundreds of other countries that come to compete. The Olympics is a cultural melting pot and so not only do the Games gain Israel respect, but they also spread their unique culture to the rest of the world. Israeli's are all able to relate to each other with the common grounds of their country participating in the same event. In the years after the 1992 Olympic Games, Israel has continued its success and racked up more medals to show for it. After everything Israel had to overcome, this triumph is one that people all over the world will never forget.