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August 17, 2016 3:44 pm

Netanyahu Likens Judo to Israel, Combining Brains, Brawn, Heart (VIDEO)

avatar by Ruthie Blum

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with  judoka Ori Sasson. Photo: Screenshot.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with judoka Ori Sasson. Photo: Screenshot.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greeted the country’s returning Olympic judokas at his office in Jerusalem on Wednesday, and lauded them for more than their athletic prowess and success in Rio.

At the gathering, attended by Israeli’s national judo team, Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev and Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, the prime minister said, “First of all, anyone who made it to our Olympic team is equivalent to a general…It’s like getting accepted to an elite [IDF] unit. It’s not easy. Secondly, to see the dedication, the struggle, is an inspiration to everybody [to know that] you can lose in a competition and come back. I’m saying this from personal experience. Yes, you can lose and come back.”

Likening judo to the state of Israel, Netanyahu said it’s a combination of “brains, brawn and heart.” Turning to the judokas and their coaches assembled, he added, “You have all exhibited all of those traits. And we’ll support you and all our Olympic teams,” referring, among other plans, to a Knesset bill  proposing life-long salaries for Israeli Olympic medalists.

He ended by raising the much-publicized issue — reported by The Algemeiner — of the rebuffed handshake that bronze medalist Ori Sasson extended to his Egyptian rival at the end of their fight.

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“I received a message yesterday from Egypt,” Netanyahu recounted. “And they said, ‘I want you to know, prime minister, that other voices were heard.’ What is important is that, for the first time in years, other voices were heard emanating from Egypt…It’s a turning point, not only in sports, but in our relationship [with Egypt] — not only on the governmental level, but among the public as well, where other voices were heard.”

Watch the video of the entire meeting with bronze medalists Yarden Gerbi and Ori Sasson, as well as coach Oren Smadja and other members of the team below:

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