The Controversy That Wasn't: Qatar Displays Israeli Flag After All

Israeli swimmer Guy Barnea posted on Facebook that the Israeli flag displayed when he won a heat during the swimming championships was missing the Star of David. The post was soon removed.

Uri Talshir
Uri Talshir
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Image from Guy Barnea's Facebook page in which the Star of David seems to be missing, December 7, 2014.Credit: Courtesy
Uri Talshir
Uri Talshir

TV footage from the World Swimming Championships in Doha, Qatar, shows the Israeli flag – complete with Star of David – beneath the image of Israeli swimmer Guy Barnea after he won a 200-meter butterfly heat. The footage was acquired by Israeli Channel 1 TV.

Earlier, Barnea posted, “200 butterfly What’s missing from the picture?” on Facebook, with a screenshot of the screen in the swimming auditorium. The reference was to the flag, which seemed to be missing the Star of David.

But Barnea was mistaken. The Star of David was in a light shade of blue and somewhat faint, but it was definitely there, according to the full footage. The broadcast also used the initials "ISR" for Israel and identified Barnea by name.

The post was later removed from Barnea's Facebook page.

At a separate world cup event in Doha last year, the Israeli flag was missing from the TV presentation showing the lanes of the swimmers. The incident resulted in a reprimand for the organizers by FINA, the world swimming federation.

Before the current competition, swimmer Gal Nevo told Haaretz: “We’ve jokingly talked about how we need to win the easier preliminary heats to make the producers uncomfortable."

Ironically, Barnea was the only Israeli swimmer in the team of five not to make it into the finals.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Star of David was missing from the flag on Qatari TV.