(JTA) — In an unprecedented show of support for Israel, a number of professional athletes and sports teams issued statements about Hamas’ invasion of the country, which has left over 900 dead.
“The NBA and [the NBA Players’ Association] mourn the horrific loss of life in Israel and condemn these acts of terrorism,” the NBA posted on X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter. The league’s commissioner, Adam Silver, is Jewish. “We stand with the people of Israel and pray for peace for the entire region.”
Numerous NBA teams then reposted the league’s message. The Washington Wizards, the team of the NBA’s lone Israeli player, Deni Avdija, posted that they “stand with the people of Israel.”
The MLB posted a statement on Monday afternoon, writing on X that the league is “horrified by the acts of terrorism committed against the people of Israel” and is “heartbroken for the people of Israel.”
— MLB (@MLB) October 9, 2023
Baltimore Orioles Israeli pitcher Dean Kremer, who was born in California to Israeli parents and has played for Team Israel in international tournaments, shared the MLB’s message on Instagram with a Hebrew note saying, “There are no words. My heart just got ripped to shreds.”
Kremer is likely to start the Orioles’ playoff game Tuesday — which they have to win to stay alive in the American League Division Series against the Texas Rangers — and Orioles beat reporter Dan Connolly tweeted that some of Kremer’s teammates have checked in on him.
Similar messages of support have poured in from across the sports world over the past three days, including from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who is Jewish and a longtime supporter of Israel.
A statement from our founder Robert Kraft. pic.twitter.com/VW3oxNzNvH
— Stand Up to Jewish Hate # (@StandUp2JewHate) October 9, 2023
Detroit Lions player Alex Anzalone shared that his parents are currently in Jerusalem, pleading with the U.S. government to help them safely evacuate. “It’s hard,” Anzalone told the Detroit News. “(It’s) really all I’ve been thinking about.”
Anzalone’s parents are reportedly part of a group of 53 Americans who arrived in Israel on Oct. 2 as part of a tour group through their church in Naples, Florida. Rep. Byron Donalds, who represents the area in Congress, posted about the group on X, to which Anzalone replied: “My parents are in this group. Please get my parents home… @POTUS,” tagging President Joe Biden’s official account.
Amar’e Stoudemire, the former NBA star who converted to Judaism and played professionally in Israel, shared a video on Instagram calling for a ceasefire, saying he “pray[s] for the safety of Palestinian children along with the Israeli children.” Former Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman wrote on X that he is “heartbroken.”
— Julian Edelman (@Edelman11) October 8, 2023
Boston Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla spoke about the war during his pregame press conference on Sunday, saying, “there should be a lot of thoughts and prayers” for Israelis.
“I went this past year and I went in 2016,” Mazzulla said. “It doesn’t matter what you are, whether you’re a Muslim, whether you’re Jewish or Christian, Israeli or Palestinian. They’re people and they go through a lot of dangerous times and situations. Our country is 400 years old and they’ve been going through suffering for 10,000 years. You start to see the perspective of the world, and it’s a really, really tough area to be. So I think we should all be aware of that.”
In Israel, the conflict has already begun affecting previously planned sports events. The Israeli national soccer team’s upcoming Euro 2024 qualifying match against Switzerland, which was scheduled for Thursday, has been postponed. Matches for Israel’s under-17 and under-21 soccer teams were also postponed.
“In light of the current security situation in Israel, UEFA has decided to postpone all matches scheduled in Israel in the next couple of weeks with new dates to be confirmed in due course,” the Union of European Football Associations announced Sunday.
Israel’s top basketball and soccer leagues have also postponed games. The Maccabi Ra’anana basketball team is scheduled to play an exhibition game against the Brooklyn Nets in New York on Thursday as the team celebrates a previously scheduled Israeli Heritage Night. (The Jewish Sport Report, JTA’s sports newsletter, and the New York Jewish Week are co-sponsoring the event.)
The Hapoel Tel Aviv Football Club shared on social media that former player Lior Assulin and youth coach Alon Shamli were both killed during the attacks.
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Israeli and Jewish activists take campaign for greater concern about Oct. 7 sex crimes to UN
(JTA) — Less than a week after the United Nations secretary general urged an investigation into reported sexual violence by Hamas, the Israeli U.N. mission held a conference on the allegations and pressed the international community to speak out more forcefully against them.
“We have come so far in believing survivors of sexual assault in so many situations. That’s why the silence on these war crimes is dangerous,” said former Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg, the event’s keynote speaker. “The world has to decide who to believe. Do we believe the Hamas spokesperson who said that rape is forbidden, therefore it couldn’t have possibly happened on October 7th? Or do we believe the women whose bodies tell us how they spent the last few minutes of their lives?”
A CNN op-ed by Sandberg, and an accompanying Instagram post, have been at the center of a growing protest by Israeli and Jewish women who charge that the U.N. and other international bodies have dismissed or downplayed reports of sexual violence during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. The protest has spread via the hashtag #Me_Too_UNless_UR_a_Jew and found its real-life expression in Monday’s event, which drew 700 people to U.N. headquarters on Manhattan’s East Side.
Israeli U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan took aim in particular at U.N. Women — the organization’s arm for promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment — which caught flak for posting and then deleting a statement condemning the Hamas attack.
“Sadly, the very international bodies that are supposedly the defenders of all women show that when it comes to Israelis, indifference is acceptable,” Erdan said in his opening remarks.
“U.N. Women ignored all of the proof and were blind to all the evidence, including video footage of testimonies of sexual crimes,” he said. “Instead of immediately supporting the victims, U.N. Women brazenly suggested that Hamas’ gender-based violence be investigated by a blatantly antisemitic U.N. body.”
The condemnation of the U.N. is the latest in a long line of complaints Israel has had about the body both before and during its ongoing war with Hamas. In late October, Erdan called on Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to resign after he said the Oct. 7 attack “did not happen in a vacuum.”
The United Nations General Assembly has yet to condemn Hamas and has called for a cessation of the conflict, which restarted last week after a seven-day pause in which Hamas released more than 100 hostages and Israel released hundreds of Palestinian security prisoners..
Last week, Guterres called for an investigation into sexual violence by Hamas. But speakers at Monday’s event pushed for more from world leaders. Sandberg called for “the entire U.N. to formally condemn, investigate, hold the terrorists accountable.” Erdan, to loud applause, called for an “investigation of U.N. Women’s indifference to the heinous crimes against Israeli women”
In the nearly two months since the Hamas attack in Israel on Oct. 7, Israeli law enforcement, search and rescue groups, and the country’s recently formed Civil Commission on October 7 Crimes by Hamas against Women and Children have collected evidence and testimony regarding Hamas’ sexual violence on Oct. 7. Over the weekend, The Sunday Times reported testimony from survivors of the Nova music festival recalling women being gang raped and beheaded.
Sheila Katz, the CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women, which organized the event along with other women’s rights groups, drew a parallel between last week’s Torah portion, which includes the Biblical story of the rape of Dinah, and the experiences of the victims of Oct. 7. Katz noted that Dinah’s voice is notably missing from the Biblical narrative.
“For generations, survivors of sexual assaults have looked to Dina’s story because it speaks so powerfully to the secondary trauma of being unheard, ignored and reduced to mere objects for debate,” said Katz, who invited people to step out of the room if they felt the need, given the graphic nature of the event. “And we heard this with new significance this year, because Israeli women and girls were recently tortured, raped, and killed, forever silenced by Hamas.”
Several actors attended the event, including Tovah Feldshuh, Julianna Margulies, Emmy Rossum and Debra Messing, all of whom have spoken out against antisemitism or Hamas’ attack. (Margulies was also fresh off an apology after making disparaging comments about Black Americans who have not supported Jews after Oct. 7.)
The event also featured people who tended to victims of the event, including representatives from ZAKA, the Orthodox Israeli first-responder organization, and the Israeli police, who have been collecting and documenting evidence from victims of sexual violence and people who witnessed the violence. They recounted graphic stories, to which the crowd responded vocally with murmurs, gasps and tears. Some in the audience exchanged tissues, hugs and pats on the back for extra support.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, a Democrat, also came and discussed seeing a compilation of footage of the attack that a group of senators recently viewed.
“I’ve seen much of the raw footage. It takes your breath away,” she said. “You can’t unsee it.”
Speaking to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency after the event, Sandberg said silence surrounding sexual violence is connected to a dearth of female representation on the world stage.
“You look in that hall at those flags — those are countries run by men, very few are run by women. I really wanted that to change in my lifetime. It’s not going to happen, not going to be close,” she said. “But that means the progress we fought for to get women’s women’s rights and protection of our bodies, protection of who we are, protection against systematic, sexualized violence — can’t be lost. And that is why anyone can speak out. And when they speak out, we have to all unite together as quickly as possible.”
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Canada’s Rally for the Jewish People brought thousands to Ottawa calling for the return of the hostages in Gaza—while delivering a loud rebuke to the recent waves of antisemitism
A detailed report from a spirited snowy scene on Monday afternoon.
The post Canada’s Rally for the Jewish People brought thousands to Ottawa calling for the return of the hostages in Gaza—while delivering a loud rebuke to the recent waves of antisemitism appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.
Despite bus driver boycott, thousands attend pro-Israel rally in Ottawa
MONTREAL (JTA) — Despite a foot of snow in Montreal and chartered buses that never showed up in Toronto, thousands of Canadian Jews assembled on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday to voice solidarity with Israel and decry a rise in antisemitism.
Despite concerns over overall security in Canada’s capital city, which was tight, the rally’s speakers included several prominent Canadian politicians, Jewish leaders, college students who feel unsafe on campus and family members of Israelis taken hostage or killed by Hamas on Oct. 7.
Local Jewish leaders called the event, organized by Jewish federations across Canada and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, a historic gathering. But just weeks after a similar incident in Detroit before a massive pro-Israel rally in Washington, 17 of 70 chartered buses did not show up to pick up rally-goers in Toronto.
Organizers called the no-show bus company antisemitic.
“Despite charging in full in advance and confirming its participation, the [unidentified] company did not send a single bus and has declined all communications while refusing to provide any explanations,” said Adam Minsky, president and CEO of United Jewish Appeal Federations in Toronto.
“We are driven to the view that this shameful decision is intended to disrupt our peaceful rally out of hatred toward Jews,” he added. “What happened today is sickening and outrageous. We will respond aggressively with every legal and public affairs tool at our disposal.”
Israel’s ambassador to Canada Iddo Moed, Liberal Party member of parliament Anthony Housefather and deputy Conservative Party leader Melissa Lantsman all spoke on Monday.
“This is not 1943. I’m grateful that Israel exists and has an army to fight back against those who launched this pogrom,” said Housefather, who is Jewish and represents Montreal’s heavily Jewish Mount Royal district.
Raquel Look, whose son Alexandre was murdered at the music festival in southern Israel attacked by Hamas on Oct. 7, called on Canadian politicians to take more action against antisemitism. Hate crimes against Jews — including multiple incidents that have involved Molotov cocktails thrown at Montreal-area synagogues — have spiked across Canada.
“Our sorrow is deep and immeasurable but today we want to channel this immense pain into a call for action,” Look said. “Please let us honour his memory by standing up against the forces that seek to destroy Jewish and Canadians values we hold so dear.”
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