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Iranian Weightlifter Shakes Hands of Israeli Competitor and is Banned for Life

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The Islamic Republic of Iran has again shown its fanatical hatred of the Jewish state. It has a longstanding policy of forbidding its athletes to compete against Israelis. Rather than do so, if those athletes are scheduled to face an Israeli opponent, they must forfeit the match to the Israeli, thereby removing any possibility of an Iranian win. But the ban on having anything to do with Israeli athletes is not just during the actual competition. It extends to any interaction before or after, including the simplest of human gestures — shaking hands with a representative of the hated “Zionist entity.” And if an Iranian athlete violates that rule, his entire future as an athlete in Iran may come to an end. More on the latest example of this can be found here.

An Iranian weightlifter was given a lifetime ban by authorities inside Iran for shaking hands with an Israeli competitor at the Masters World Weightlifting Championships in Wieliczka, Poland, which concluded on Saturday.

The Weightlifting Federation [of Iran] bans the athlete Mostafa Rajai for life from accessing all sports facilities in the country, and dismisses the head of the delegation for the competition, Hamid Salehinia,” the federation said in a statement cited by the Iranian state news agency IRNA.

Rajai, who previously represented Iran at the 2015 Asian Championships, finished second in his category at the competition in Poland and stood on a podium with an Iranian flag wrapped around him on Saturday. He then shook hands and took a photo with Israeli weightlifter Maksim Svirsky, who finished third, while they both stood on the podium together.

In weightlifting, as opposed to Greco-Roman wrestling, or to many other sports, there is no need for an Iranian competitor to have anything to do with an Israeli competitor. But at the end of the weightlifting competition, the three winners stood on the podium together. Rajai might have simply stood there, stolidly, separated from the Israeli third-place winner Maksim Svirsky by the first-place winner, staring straight ahead. Instead, he did the human thing, and shook hands with Svirsky rather than reject the Israeli’s outstretched hand. Just as intolerable, from the Iranians’ point of view, he agreed to have his photo taken with the Israeli weightlifter.

The athlete “crossed the red lines of the Islamic Republic” as the Iranian delegation “was sent with the support of the federation,” according to IRNA.

This intolerable act — the five-second handshake — was according to the Iranians an insult to the Supreme Leader, to all the families of “martyrs” (who died defending the Islamic Republic), and to all the people of Iran.

In addition to apologizing to the leader of the revolution, the families of martyrs and all the people of Iran, I promise we will certainly never witness incidents like this in the weightlifting family,” the federation’s chief, Sajad Anoushiravani, reportedly said in a statement quoted by Al Jazeera.

The federation added that a committee representing veteran weightlifters has also been disbanded.

Apparently those veteran weightlifters did not immediately express the horror and rage they should have at one of their own, or perhaps the government suspected them of secretly supporting the handshaking Mostafa Rajai, so they too deserved to be punished, by having the committee representing their interests disbanded. But why stop there? Why shouldn’t weightlifting itself be banned as a sport in Iran, given that a number of weightlifters have behaved decently — which is to say unacceptably — toward their Israeli counterparts? That’ll show the Zionist entity, when not a single Iranian weightlifter shows up for international competitions, and Iran is again a laughingstock in world athletic circles.

Iran does not recognize Israel and forbids its athletes from competing against Israelis. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei repeated the country’s policy in a 2021 speech, saying, “Any Iranian athlete worthy of the name cannot shake hands with a representative of the criminal regime in order to win a medal.”…

The regime in Tehran has by its policy of ordering its athletes to forfeit games so that they will not have to compete with Israelis simply enrages the Iranian athletes who have trained all year, only to be told by the despots who run their country that they must forfeit a match so as to avoid the possibility of competing against an Israeli. All those years of training, and now all for naught. Cutting off your nose to spite your face appears to be the Supreme Leader’s motto.


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