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President & First Lady Rivlin host reception in honor of Maccabiah Games Photo by Mark Neiman (GPO)
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President & First Lady Rivlin host reception in honor of Maccabiah Games

10 July 2017

President & First Lady Rivlin host reception in honor of Maccabiah Games

(Communicated by the President’s Spokesperson) 


President Reuven and First Lady Nechama Rivlin, today (Monday), hosted a special reception at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem in honor of the athletes and supporters of the 20th Maccabiah Games. In attendance were heads of different national delegations, and representatives of countries which had not previously been represented at the Games.


President Rivlin began by welcoming his guests, and added, “Sport has always been a way of bringing people together. People who have never met are joined in a common cause, cheering for the same soccer team, or the same swimmer in a race. Sport makes people come together, because it's fun, because it’s a celebration of the human spirit and body. But also, because sport, at its best, reflects the world we wish for ourselves: A world in which we celebrate talent, whatever their religion, race or sex. A world where, in order to be a part of the game everyone must play by the rules. A world where, respect for your rivals is a basic condition. A world where you can only win when everybody is able to do their best, and help their team members do their part. This is the world we dream to raise our children and grandchildren in.” 


He noted, “We, the Jewish people, know that it was not always so clear that people from all races can play sport, and that sport and politics don't mix. Jews or members of the black community, were, in the past - and sometimes even now - victims racism and discrimination in sport. The Maccabiah stands against this. The Maccabiah stands against hatred. Today too, we must stand up for these values and fight together the very danger idea of BDS and politics in sport.”


The President observed that during the Maccabiah, people were able to put aside differences and expressed his hope that this partnership would be carried on in all our day to day lives. He said, “We can argue among us, we can disagree. But at all times, we are one family. There is no rift between us, and we will not allow anyone to bring a rift between us.”


The President concluded by speaking of the memory of those who lost their lives in the tragedy at the 15th Macccabiah Games, and of Israeli athletes who were murdered in the Munich terror attack. He said, “Their memory and souls are with us.”


President of the Maccabi World Union, Leo Dan Bensky said, “It is always such a special feeling to visit Jerusalem, the eternal, undivided capital of Israel”. He added, “On behalf of all of us today, a big ‘Toda Raba’ for receiving us here. It is such an honor to come to your home, which you so warmly refer to also as our home, the country and this place. Please be assured that Israel has our unconditional support, now and forever. Am Yisrael Chai.”


Former Maccabiah competitor, now an Ambassador for the Games, four-time Olympic gold medalist, American swimmer Jason Lezak also spoke about his experience competing in the Games and said, “I always saw myself as an athlete, and I always saw myself as a Jew, but to finally come here and put the two together, now I am a Jewish athlete. This experience for me was unlike anything I have ever been a part of. I got to see my heritage, and meet people from all over the world and we all had such similar backgrounds.”