Vienna Event Misplaces the ‘Hatikvah’

By Nathan Burstein

Published November 18, 2009, issue of November 27, 2009.
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Talk about “Hope”-less. Organizers of an international fencing competition outside Vienna claim to have misplaced a recording of Israel’s national anthem — nearly preventing the piece, “Hatikvah,” from sounding during an awards ceremony.

Improvised: Israeli fencers Strelnikov, left, Kornarov, right, and their coach sang the ‘Hatikvah’ at the European Cup in Austria.
COURTESY OF MACCABI MA’ALOT
Improvised: Israeli fencers Strelnikov, left, Kornarov, right, and their coach sang the ‘Hatikvah’ at the European Cup in Austria.

In the end, the event’s Israeli winner, Daria Strelnikov, sang the anthem herself, aided by compatriot bronze medalist Alona Komarov and the rest of their team and coaching staff.

The incident marred an otherwise triumphant outcome for the young Israeli swordswomen, who were competing in the November 14 round of the European Cup for cadet fencers, restricted to competitors 17 and younger.

“I don’t want to say it was antisemitism, but it’s not respectful,” said the head of the Israel Fencing Association, Yossi Harari, of the missing “Hatikvah” recording. “If I were organizing a competition, I would be sure to have a copy of every country’s national anthem ready to play.”

Harari said that competition hosts in Modling, Austria, had been “nice and very courteous” in their treatment of the Israeli squad, but noted that an identical episode involving the team’s national anthem had occurred three years earlier during a fencing competition in the same Vienna suburb. This time, he said, he would send an official letter of protest to the European Fencing Confederation, in hopes of ensuring that a third incident would not take place.

Israeli fencers traveling overseas will also be provided with their own copies of “Hatikvah,” which means “The Hope,” so that “there won’t be any excuse not to play it” in the future, he said.


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