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Athletes Say NO to Antisemitism

To coincide with the Olympic Games, International March of the Living, Maccabi World Union and the Maccabiah are launching a global campaign to combat the exponential rise of antisemitism around the world.

Athletes, among them Olympic medal winners, are taking part in the campaign as agents of change

At a time when global antisemitism is breaking records around the world and when Jews and Jewish communities are under a constant stream of attack, International March of the Living, Maccabi World Union and the Maccabiah are launching a campaign to combat antisemitism. The aim of this campaign is to raise awareness of the importance of participating in the fight against antisemitism, by having athletes take a public stand for this critical cause at this pivotal time.

The campaign, timed to coincide with the start of the Olympic Games, will be branded under the slogan “Athletes say no to antisemitism” and promoted through the hashtags #NeverMeansNever and #AthletesAgainstAntisemitism.

The campaign will encourage leading athletes to take a public stand against antisemitism, racism, and all forms of hate, and through this, inspire millions of people around the world to make a lasting change. The campaign will be publicized through social media and promoted internationally throughout the Olympics.

The campaign has been launched in light of the recent explosion of antisemitic incidents across the world. Jews have been attacked, both physically and verbally, throughout Europe and North America, with many more targeted online. Synagogues, cemeteries and Jewish property have been vandalized. The UK alone recently recorded a 250 percent rise in antisemitic incidents, while similar spikes have been documented in other European countries and in North America.

According to Yael Arad, Israel’s first medalist at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, “To participate in the Olympics is an unparalleled personal high for every athlete, but also a collective high for the whole world, for all of us as one global society – a society which knows how to unite around a common denominator that celebrates sport. We know how to overcome preconceived opinions, hatred and racism, and the Olympics is an important lesson in the way we must live even after the Olympics, with respect and tolerance.”

Chairman of the 21st Maccabiah Games, Olympic medalist and former judoka Arik Ze’evi said today from Tokyo that, “Antisemitism, like all racism, is contrary to the spirit of sport and has no place in sport. Athletes can and should also serve as role models for how we accept one another and look for what unites rather than divides us. Everywhere I went in our sport, I was always proud of my Judaism and never encountered discrimination.  This is the spirit of judo, this is the spirit of sport, and this is the human spirit.”

Dr. Shmuel Rosenman and Phyllis Greenberg Heideman, Chairman and President of the International March of the Living: “Antisemitism around the world is breaking records and we must do everything in our power to put a stop to this phenomenon. Athletes are meant to serve as role models for billions of people globally, and over the course of the coming weeks, everyone’s eyes will be turned towards our Olympians. We call on athletes to heed our call and take a firm and clear stance against antisemitism, racism and hatred of all forms.”

International March of the Living is the world’s largest annual international Holocaust education program with close to 300,000 alumni. Since its inception in 1988, the March of the Living has been held without interruption, until the Covid 19 outbreak in 2020. Each year, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jewish students from around the world march the 3.2 kilometer distance from Auschwitz to Birkenau, arm in arm with Holocaust survivors. They are joined on this journey by thousands of other people of goodwill – of diverse backgrounds and faiths. They march in tribute to the greatest loss in the history of the Jewish people, in memory of all victims of Nazi genocide, and against prejudice, intolerance and hate.

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