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August 14, 2016 11:14 am

Netanyahu Congratulates Israeli Bronze Medalist Judoka for ‘Showing Peace-Seeking Face of Nation’ Despite Egyptian Rival’s Olympic Snub (VIDEO)

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Israeli judoka Or (Ori) Sasson, being congratulated by PM Netanyahu, after winning a bronze medal at the Olympics in Rio.  Photo: Channel 2/Screenshot.

Israeli judoka Or (Ori) Sasson, being congratulated by PM Netanyahu, after winning a bronze medal at the Olympics in Rio. Photo: Channel 2/Screenshot.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned one of the Jewish state’s star judokas during Saturday night’s Channel 2 news broadcast to congratulate him for more than merely winning an Olympic medal at the games in Rio.

“Mazal tov….Every boy and girl in Israel and the world who watched you compete saw not only a great athlete, but a man with values,” Netanyahu said to Or (Ori) Sasson, who appeared visibly stunned to be speaking to the head of his country. “You showed the true face of Israel. The pretty and proud face of a strong, peace-seeking nation.”

Netanyahu was referring to Sasson’s Friday afternoon Olympic victory in a fight against Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby, who exhibited a lack of sportsmanship by refusing the handshake of his Israeli competitor at the end of the match – a gesture that elicited booing from the bleachers.

As The Algemeiner reported on Thursday, in the lead-up to the fight, El Shehaby, known for his extreme, anti-Israel views, was pressured by followers on social media not to compete against Sasson in the first place.

“You will shame Islam,” wrote one angry fan. “If you lose, you will shame an entire nation and yourself. We don’t want to think what will happen if you lost to an Israeli. Victory will give you nothing. How can you cooperate with a murderous nation?”

El Shehaby, winner of a bronze medal in the 2010 World Judo Championship in the over-100-kilo category, nevertheless arrived on the mat as scheduled, following threats by the chairman of the Egyptian Olympic Committee that if he failed to do so, his citizenship would be revoked. He then lost to Sasson – a silver medalist two years in a row at the European Championships – after their first round.

Netanyahu told Sasson that he had made the whole country proud.

“You achieved something unreal from a personal, national and international perspective. I think all of us saw how you lived your dream. You showed that if one wants it enough and makes enough effort — and one dares enough — he can realize his dreams,” the prime minister said.

“I’m so happy to have brought honor to the country I love so much and to which I am so attached,” Sasson said.

Netanyahu added: “Tell your coach, Oren Smadja, that we’re proud of him, and that he should keep doing what he’s doing. And when he gets back to Israel, I’ll speak to him and [Culture and Sport] Minister Miri Regev about [establishing] a fund for Olympic athletes.”

Before signing off, Channel 2 asked him what he thought when observing El Shehaby’s handshake refusal.

“I thought that alongside relations we have been developing with countries in the region, there is much work to be done to counter the horrible propaganda that has built up against us for decades,” Netanyahu answered. “I’m not giving up on that [goal]. That day will come, God willing.”

As The Algemeiner reported earlier this month, diplomatic ties between Egypt and Israel have been strengthening in the three years since the military coup that ousted former President Mohamed Morsi.

On a visit to Jerusalem in July, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry was not only photographed next to a bust of state of Israel visionary Theodor Herzl, but watched the European soccer championships on TV with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The controversy surrounding El Shehaby is not the first incident of its kind at the Olympic Games in Brazil.

On August 5, the Lebanese delegation to the games refused to share a bus meant to take the athletes to the opening ceremony with the Israeli team. Subsequently, on Aug. 7, Saudi Arabian judoka Joud Fahmy forfeited her first-round match against Christianne Legentil from Mauritius, reportedly in order to avoid competing against Israeli contender Gili Cohen in the next round.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the Egyptian Olympic Committee has summoned El Shehaby to a hearing on his unsportsmanlike behavior following his loss to Sasson.

Watch Sasson on Israel’s Channel 2 speaking to PM Netanyahu on the phone:

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  • Dani

    Or Sansson of our times! Egypt will never be a true friend to Israel. All that there is now is a political Alliance against Iran and their buffet mercenariee in Gaza. We should never be overconfident waith them. If they are not even willing to shake hands at the Olympic Games, what kind of peace respect can we expect from them?

  • Rahmat

    By just showing the world this fake acting of friendship and handshake Israel cant hide its crime committed against innocent people of Plastine. Wake up world..

  • nat cheiman

    Well done on your medal, mate. You also showed Islam a hand of friendship which they clearly rejected.
    You are bigger than they

  • Telh

    Losing to an Israeli would “shame Islam” – how?
    Anyway Islam is being shamed by Muslims every day through acts of terror, ‘honor’ killings, arrogance, excessive claims of entitlement, wife beating, female genital mutilation, ridiculous fatwas and general disdain for the rest of the world. So I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

  • Love is 3 things:- 1) Some one to love (there is no love in Islam except for the ‘love’ of hate’which is not possible).
    2) Some good things to do (Islam has only bad things to do.
    3) Some good things to look forward to (Islam has only bad things to look forward to). There cannot be any happiness and Islam in one place.

  • food4thought

    Golden opportunity to put Egypt’s “peace”sincerity to the test. PM Bibi should call the Egyptian President and propose that the President accompany El Shehaby and the chair of the Egyptian Olympics Committee on a visit to Israel to tour the country and people he hates but doesn’t know, and with both Heads of State and the respective chairs of their Olympic Committees looking on, have Shehaby extend his hand to Sasson.

  • Yoel Nitzarim

    Ori Sasson is a terrific model for every young person not only of Israel, but for every young person in this world today. His show of humbleness and respect for his fellow man in offering his hand after winning his competition is a true sign of human dignity as well as a commitment to a shared humanity.

  • Edna Anzarut-Turner

    Kol ha kavot for your bronze Olympic medal. We salute you from Montreal – Canada – Ori.
    Every member of the diaspora is so proud of you.

    You also behaved with honour and calm towards Egyptian Judoca. His unfortunate display of nationality antagonism is, as Mr. Netanyahu said, to years of negative propaganda towards Israel.

    I am sure, and feel positive that there will come a time when this will disappear and be replaced by true friendship.

  • Ron DeJohn

    The truth is evil always fears good, just as righteousness fulfills the Love of God. Pray for the Arabs who are headed down the wrong road.

  • Yaakov

    So Netanyahu believes in astrology along with the concept that being “proud” is an admirable trait.