Geneva, September 6th, 2021 – A global online marathon to Celebrate Israel and wish the Jewish world “Shana Tova”, a sweet new year, has issued a Geneva Declaration cherishing the presence of Jewish communities worldwide as well as the State of Israel. The Declaration quotes German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in stating that “Jews have been instrumental in writing and shaping our history and in illuminating our culture.”
The Declaration was presented and read out in celebrations across all continents during the online Celebrate Israel Marathon on Sunday, thus contrasting the Durban Declaration from 2001 which had accused Israel of racism. In a moving contribution from the city of Durban twenty years later, featuring a spectacular Jerusalem dance, leaders from the Christian communities assured that from now on the name Durban will be associated with love and support for Israel. This message was echoed from outside the parliament building in Cape Town where members of parliament Kenneth Meshoe and Steven Swart expressed their love and appreciation for Israel and the Jewish community in South Africa.
The marathon also included the launch of an Indigenous Coalition for Israel based in New Zealand and headed up by Dr Sheree Trotter and Hon Alfred Ngaro. Representing indigenous people groups, their contribution was especially powerful because they expressed solidarity with the Jewish people by likewise recognizing them as an indigenous people group – the indigenous people of Israel – thus debunking the myth that Jews are colonizers and intruders. The Geneva Declaration also mentions “the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their ancestral homeland which was inscribed in international law in 1920 and in the rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948.“
“Today antisemitism hides itself behind anti-Zionism,” the Chief Rabbi of Singapore Mordechai Abergel pointed out as he spoke in the marathon alongside the Chief Rabbi of Moscow Pinchas Goldschmidt and the Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands Binyomin Jacobs.
The online event culminated in a live rally at Place des Nations in Geneva overlooking the UN headquarters where the audience could listen to speeches from the Israeli Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Meirav Eilon Shahar, the President of the Geneva section of the Switzerland-Israel Association Joel Herzog, Elizaveta Zaidman from the World Jewish Congress, the President of the Eglise évangélique libre de Genève Björn Aronsson, as well as a musical performance by Philippe and Jessica Talec and a reading of a text of Albert Cohen by Séphora Schmidt.
In his brief concluding remarks ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell summarized the message from the 6-hour marathon in assuring Israel – you are not alone!
The online marathon featured a long list of other prominent speakers and government representatives including the EU Coordinator on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life, Katharina von Schnurbein, UK Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust issues, Lord Pickles, Minister for European affairs of the government of Finland, Tytti Tuppurainen and Ambassador of Israel to the United States and the United Nations Gilad Erdan.
An edited version of the marathon can be found on the ECI website.
Jerusalem dance performed by a large group of young people in Durban, South Africa, for the Global Celebrate Israel Marathon