Source: The Institute For National Security Studies
Author(s): Omer Einav, Orit Perlov, Ofir Winter
The match on the judo mat between Israeli Ori Sasson and Egyptian Islam el-Shehaby in the 2016 Olympic Games went beyond sports. The question that arose before the match of whether el-Shehaby would even appear for the contest, and especially his refusal to shake hands with Sasson afterwards, sparked a widespread debate on Israel-Egypt relations and the question of normalization between the countries. It appears that normalization remains a sensitive idea for the Egyptian public, and the complexity would likely not be alleviated immediately even if a dramatic positive change took place in relations between Israel and the Palestinians. Indeed, most of el-Shehaby’s critics did not criticize him for ignoring his Israeli competitor and were not motivated by a desire for normalization, but by reasons involving sportsmanship and Egypt’s image and international standing. At the same time, the very existence of an open public debate, in which opinions on all sides are heard on an issue considered taboo for many years, constitutes a notable development…
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