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January 28, 2019 3:38 pm

Top Jewish Groups Welcome Decision to Strip Malaysia of World Para Swimming Championships Over Israeli Athlete Ban

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Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Photo: Reuters / Lai Seng Sin.

Prominent Jewish groups across the globe have welcomed the decision of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to strip Malaysia of the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships over the country’s ban of Israeli athletes.

“Today’s decision is a great victory for the Paralympic spirit,” American Jewish Committee (AJC) CEO David Harris said on Sunday. “The IPC Governing Board has sent a crystal-clear message that it will not tolerate violations of its own code of conduct. Blatant discrimination by Malaysia against athletes from Israel was just that.”

“As antisemitism rises around the world, we commend the IPC Governing Board for saying clearly that its manifestation in Malaysia has no place in the Paralympic community,” Harris added.

World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald Lauder stated, “The International Paralympic Committee has taken a principled and honorable step today in making it clear to both Malaysia and other states around the world that blatant discrimination against other national teams will not be tolerated, and that any attempt to do so would be met with severe repercussions. There is absolutely no place in sport for politics, antisemitism, or bigotry, and we sincerely hope that the penalty faced by Malaysia today will deter other countries from such discriminatory policies.”

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“The World Jewish Congress was incensed to learn of Malaysia’s ban on these Israeli athletes and recognized all too well that this was hardly an isolated incident in the world of international sports,” he continued. “We have seen the same inequitable attempts to block Israeli teams from playing, or from displaying national symbols in other arenas, including judo and chess, over the last year, and have been encouraged to see the international bodies overseeing these tournaments taking action against them in the spirit of sport and camaraderie.”

Board of Deputies of British Jews President Marie van der Zyl declared, “We commend the International Paralympic Committee for this important and principled decision. Malaysia’s prime minister continues to heap shame upon his office for his overtly racist comments against Jews. Now, his attempts to obstruct the inclusive purpose of the World Para Swimming Championships by banning Israeli athletes has been rightly blocked.”

“It is a pity for ordinary Malaysians that their prime minister’s bigotry has deprived them of the opportunities Championships present,” she went on to say. “We hope that, wherever their new home, the championships will be a tremendous, inclusive and sporting success.”

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad — who in the past has described Jews as “hook-nosed” — said of the IPC’s move, “They want to cancel, let them cancel. I find that the world has to follow what Israel says. I don’t understand because the world has the power but still has to listen to Israel… but we won’t.”

Earlier this month, Israel condemned Mohamad for his “rabid antisemitism.”

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