New Water Libel: Cry Me A Pool Edition

3
1960

There’s been a new water libel in town, and unlike the old one, there’s no fictitious rabbis involved.

Just some very real Olympic-sized pools.

(Derek Stoffel/CBC)
(Derek Stoffel/CBC)

As the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympic games celebrated the spirit of competition and camaraderie that captures the hearts and eyes of millions around the world every four years, the festivities were momentarily darkened by a short and stabbing reminder of man’s inhumanity to man. And as usual, it was all Israel’s fault. Introducing the Palestinian swimmer Mary al-Atrash, media outlets were quick tonote that the young athlete was challenged not only by the rigors of training for the Olympics but also by the fact that the occupation had cut off her access to a proper 50-meter-long pool, the standard Olympic size. Such stately facilities, the media informed its outraged viewers, were simply not available in Palestine.

If we were blessed with journalists who had the ability to use advanced research tools like the Internet, we might’ve benefited from knowing that the Israeli government office for coordinating activities in the West Bank, or COGAT, issued a statement last month on its Facebook page, making it clear that it would’ve gladly considered accommodating al-Atrash had she bothered applying for a permit to train in Jerusalem—which, like Palestinian athletes before her, she refused to do—and wishing her the best of luck anyway. It might’ve also been helpful to note that plenty of athletes around the world, including here in the United States, train, like al-Atrash, in semi-Olympic 25 meter pools, and that to qualify for the Olympics al-Atrash had to have qualified in a regulation-sized pool, which makes the whole access question a rather minor one. But never mind all that, because the Palestinian Territories, you see, have not one Olympic pool but several.

There’s this luxurious one in Gaza, built, maybe, with some of the leftover cement Hamas could spare after squandering billions on its terror tunnels; there’s one in Nablus; and when I called the folks over at the Murad resort in al-Atrash’s native Beit Sakhour, they assured me that their pool, too, was properly Olympically endowed. Water water everywhere, then, and not a drop for swimming.

This seems to check out. I see no evidence online that any of these pools closed down since they opened. And in the case of the Murad resort, a visitor from Glasgow also mentions on Trip Adviser the pool is Olympic-sized.

I can’t say I hate pouring cold water on these nefarious lies, but they seem to keep bobbing up.

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