Andrea Peyser

Andrea Peyser

Opinion

Half-Jewish, half-Arab Muslim Olympic athlete shows truth about Israel

Adam Mara’ana is half-Jewish, half-Arab Muslim and all heart.

Next month, the lights-out gorgeous citizen of Israel is set to represent the Jewish state in the pool as a member of the Israeli Olympic swimming team, traveling to Paris to compete in the 100-meter backstroke event.

At the tender age of 20, Adam is more than an athlete. He is living proof that the country of his birth is nothing like the evil caricature portrayed in the international leftist media and slandered on college campuses near and far.

Just don’t call him a hero. In the state of Israel, his story isn’t anything special.

Israeli swimmer Adam Mara’ana qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympic games in the 100-meter backstroke on Thursday morning, making him the first Arab citizen of Israel to represent the country in the Olympics since 1976. Instagram / @adamaraana
Mara’ana (right) is half-Jewish, half-Arab Muslim. Instagram / @adamaraana

“My mother is Jewish, I served in the army, studied Torah, celebrated bar mitzvah, and my father is an Arab Muslim,” he said matter-of-factly in a recent interview.

“I’m very proud of it and he’s very proud of me.”

It doesn’t get much attention, but Jews and Muslims live peaceably in the tiny country. On a visit to the Holy Land, I was struck by just how well members of the two factions get along.

In Israel, Jews and Muslims are afforded equal rights as well as opportunities. Arabs are entitled to full citizenship, have the right to vote and serve in public office. They are guaranteed equal employment and wages under the law. All citizens’ human rights are upheld.

The only stipulation is that the Arab minority has to want these things. Tragically, too many will settle for nothing less than wiping Israel off the map.

Mara’ana is half-Jewish, half-Arab Muslim and all heart, says columnist Andrea Peyser. Instagram / @adamaraana

Adam lives in the northern coastal city of Haifa, a place with a large Arab community that has been a beacon of co-existence in the past few decades. His parents are both Israeli citizens.

Family lore has it that, for Adam, his introduction to competitive swimming was sink or swim — literally.

As he tells it, at age 3, his father threw him into the water and he swam away. So much for helicopter parenting. Thanks to the hard-core training, a competitor was born.

Last week, Adam came out of the water at a sports complex near Netanya and learned he’d equaled the time of the Israeli national record-holder in the backstroke. He cried next to his elated parents.

“I just lost the gift of speech, I’m so excited,” he said in an interview.

“It’s been a childhood dream since childhood. Now I’m here and I’ll get to the Olympics.”

Whether or not Adam takes home an Olympic medal — and I’m rooting for him — he has already won.

He makes his people, his country and humanity proud.