Paralympics are Go: Israeli team receives warm welcome from home crowd.

A simple message from last night.

A simple message from last night.

Londoners have been suffering severe bouts of POD (Post Olympics Depression) this last few weeks, so it was good that the Paralympics have finally arrived and last night was the opening ceremony, which I was lucky to attend.

The theme for the evening was one of exploration, both of ourselves and the universe we inhabit, and the narrator was none other than Professor Stephen Hawking.

After a colourful opening (see below) the teams from the 164 competing nations filed round the track in the usual alphabetical order.

Typically, Iran and Iraq are alphabetically close to Israel but luckily the partying Irish are in the middle to diffuse any underlying tensions.

The Israeli team received a warm welcome when they emerged from the tunnel, as you can see here:

But nothing beats the noise and emotion when the home nation emerges as here with Paralympics Team GB:

I know we aren’t supposed to feel sorry for the athletes. But, as they filed round I couldn’t help feeling upset by the missing limbs on such young people while imagining the hardship this must entail every day of their lives. The organisers didn’t shy away from the issue and surprisingly played a version of Spasticus Autisticus by Ian Dury.

Finally, after three and a half hours we were sent on our way after a very moving rendition of I Am What I Am by Beverley Knight:

From last night also:

Reproduction of Marc Quinn's sculpture of disabled artist Alison Lapper heavily pregnant.

Reproduction of Marc Quinn’s sculpture of disabled artist Alison Lapper heavily pregnant.

The Israelis are in the house.

The Israelis are in the house.

Umbrella lifts to illuminate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Umbrella lifts to illuminate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Marching with the Union Flag before it is raised.

Marching with the Union Flag before it is raised.

A Union Flag coloured eyeball (I think).

A Union Flag coloured eyeball (I think).

Mesmerised by algebraic equations and logarithms.

Mesmerised by algebraic equations and logarithms.

29 responses to “Paralympics are Go: Israeli team receives warm welcome from home crowd.

  1. Lovely, Richard. We were there too, up in the G-ds, right behind the cauldron.

    In the ‘Israelis in the house’ photo, my friend Sharon can be seen in her helper uniform, pushing a wheelchair.

    I’ve been photographing the team since they got here, on behalf of British Friends of Israel War Disabled, who are helping with their logistics. I’ve put up lots of photos on (if you don’t mind me hijacking your blog).

    • richardmillett

      Not at all. We were discussing why she was pushing and not a member of the israeli team?

  2. A mixture of out of character chutzpah and having been being encouraged to join in as a reward for hundreds of hours of (unpaid) work for the project, over and above the call of duty.

    There’s a group of ladies and 2 guys who have been exceptional in their support for the Israeli team and they all deserve at least this recognition. They are pictured with the ambassador on the BFIWD website.

  3. Daniel Marks

    Thank you Richard and thank you especially for reminding me of one of my childhood heroes; Ian Dury (RIP). Uncharacteristically, I’ll allow myself to quote the enemy:

    “….one of few true originals of the English music scene…”

  4. you surely mean schtick ?

  5. Ian Dury and the Blockheads had a great sax player. Gilad Atzmon.

    • richardmillett

      You don’t stop, Roger! Roger, we get you! Go taunt another blog, you bored man!

      • Richard have mercy

        after the last pub within walking distance kicked him out what else is there for him

        Online dating? somehow I think each time they agree to meet in person it is the same thing as with his outings to the pubs – 10 minutes and she’s gone or rather running – leaving her coffee undrunk

      • I’m a jazz fan Richard. Atzmon is a great sax player. Are you denying that? And he has contributed to Daniel’s pleasurable musical moments. And by the way, have you read The Wandering Who? I mean the whole book.

      • richardmillett

        No, Roger. But do tell us how wonderful Atzmon is, just like Sand.

      • I just wanted to know that Daniel’s favourite band has a ‘self-hating Israel bashing Jew’ as a member. There are some ludicrous moments in his when he states that Palestinian society in the West Bank is eminently ecumenical! And he unforgiveably trivialises the Holocaust. But elsewhere in the book he raises some interesting questions about Jewish identity. And he rightfully poo-poos the term ‘self-hating Jew’ preferring instead ‘self-negating’.

      • richardmillett

        Anti-Semite usually covers all bases quite neatly.

      • Reading an old posting I came across this wonderfully prophetic comment by Roger, who could have been talking about himself:

      • and miracles of miracles – it wasn’t deleted

        but I understand that since he has read a (ONE) book which proves what they said at the times of Gutenberg that reading for yourself/unassisted is a danger to mankind

        As an antidote mankind then invented the Sapere Aude thingy but that took some centuries to come up with – so maybe there is hope yet for roger.

  6. Glad the Israeli team were well-received, as at the Olympics Opening Ceremony they were booed by the mish pit next to me – not in the Olympic spirit.

  7. Richard,

    The first time I heard on Atzmon was on this blog. I note that even Tony Greenstein seems to detest him and call him an anti-Semite. I’ve neither met the man nor have I read anything that’s he’s written. In short; I have no opinion about him one way or the other. My comments about Ian Dury referred to an era a full twenty years before his collaboration with Atzmon.

    Call me a cynic, but I do not expect every British rock singer whose songs I once appreciated to refrain from making music with anti-Israeli saxophonists two decades later.

  8. How does an article celebrating the paralympics descend into more of the same old trash spewed by some on this blog who really must be ignored if it is to maintain its integrity? It’s time out for me.

  9. It’s a paradox that some of the most enjoyable art, music and literature is produced by people whose politics (and in some cases private lives) stink. Wagner, Gore Vidal, Iain Banks and China Mieville spring to mind.

    • I’d judge those with the “stinking” private life by different criteria than those who argue for anti-semitism.

      I’ve never thought about the difference before but as a first attempt let me say that those with the private lives seem at least now and then to dream about getting out of it or even struggling with it in earnest.
      (Maybe there are some that enjoy or are proud of wallowing in it but then those must have been the ones whose books I never went into for more than a few pages because I can’t stand whining and being proud of it seems to me just the other side of the same coin)

      Those who argue for anti-semitism or its current masque anti-zionism have a serious chink in their thought processes and thus their ability and prowess to hate irrationally must by necessity permeate their other stuff.

    • Wagner’s music is pompous and pretentious. Vidal’s writing is pompous and pretentious.

    • Forever clumsy as a bear, but Leah does raise an interesting question in her claim that Wagner’s music is pompous and pretentious and that Vidal’s writing is pompous and pretentious too. Being the Philistine that I am, I have no tools with which to determine how accurate either of these contentions is; but readers might ask why it is important.

      One of my areas of quite limited expertise is chess theory and I often play the Alekhine’s Defense (1. e4 Nf6) as black. For the uninitiated Alexander Alekhine (1892-1946) was a Russian chess player and world champion who found himself in Germany during World War Two and to protect his Jewish wife and her assets found himself representing Nazi Germany. He also wrote a ridiculous treatise attacking the Jewish approach to chess and was rightly boycotted by most Jew players after the war. While I can understand that Alekhine was probably not a Jew-hater, but just a victim of circumstance, I would oppose the holding of a memorial tournament in his name in Israel. Does that mean that I should also claim that he was a bad chess player too, even though I know he was a rare genius?

      It is totalitarian regimes that seek to control their people’s every thought and action, not us. It was Communism and Fascism that tried to dictate which music to hear and which art to appreciate – the liberal democrat has no such need. We can believe completely in the truth of out Torah and the righteousness of the Zionist cause without having to negate the recipes devised by anti-Zionist chefs or boycott chess openings played by anti-Semitic grand-masters. We can enjoy a movie made by a director who may believe in the “Two State Solution” and laugh at Seinfeld even though his political views may not be ours. We are able to compartmentalize.

      So if Wagner’s music is indeed pompous and pretentious and Vidal’s writing is by remarkable coincidence pompous and pretentious too, that is reflection on their artistic creations, but nothing else. I saw a wonderful 15-year-old Chinese disabled swimmer taking gold yesterday and our Israeli competitor took only fourth place. That does not mean that the Chinese are right about not bombing Iran. It just means that the little fellow was a damned good swimmer.

      • Isn’t some prominent Israeli educator on suspension for teaching from a book that the state regards as ” post zionist ” ?

      • Daniel
        I’d take exception for books – i.e. where a writer can, if he is any good, get deep into a reader’s mind.

        As to Vidal: in that Atlantic-interview he defended Polanski claiming that he was singled out because he was Jewish and had done nothing that wasn’t run of the mill at the time … and I still like Julian and with reservations Creation (both are books about highly confused people when all is said and done that is a subject he obviously knows a lot about and so it is not surprising that Vidal’s politics and prejudices are more than is quite normal confused and yes his anti-semitic stuff is outrageous given the terrible history a lot more so than is his normal outrageousness and being confused). As to rewiring something in my brain, I think he may have been successful in alerting me re Christianism.

        Once stuff is performed a lot is possible judging from my own experience of having wept bitterly for Shylock and Shylock alone when I saw the play on TV as if in a theatre around the age of 15.

        And of course chess is so closely tied to the material world, that there he can be as nuts off the board.

        As to judging your champion – could he have left Germany taking his wife (and other family) with him? They could be really ruthless (and promises were promises only when they decided they’d stick by them) when keen on keeping their price catches inland. It seems that even after all that had happened nobody except Nazis seems to have believed that they could manage to stay in power. Hard to grasp in hindsight but since Sebastian Haffner is so very honest with himself I find it hard not to believe him (and others) when he says that.

      • PS:
        if my experience with Shylock is worth anything, then with the arts that for most people need performing, the opposite is also possible and in order to get out into the world willing to lay down my life for the “cause” Wagner would do fine, convincing everybody that the cause is noble and heroic. Personally music that makes me feel noble and heroic is not to my taste and that includes a lot of Beethoven for example but I am not deaf enough to hear that Wagner is capable of seduction pure stuff (as is Beethoven).

        Actually the only one I feel OK with almost all is Mozart. (his Ein musikalischer Spass gives me a very uncomfortable shiver but maybe that is because the performers intended it to have that effect – anyway it was enough to never make me go near it again)

  10. Steve Bronfman

    I think it’s great that they’re reaching their full potential and we should celebrate their efforts. It shouldn’t be long before advances in technology can replace limbs and eyes and ears with either machines or “regrown” organic replacements!!

  11. Thanks for giving equal coverage to the Paralympics!
    I was shocked at the blatant discrimination against disabled people by most TV stations, media and viewers: