“Apprehend those who would return us to 1936.”

Paris, 3 August 2015

In a letter to German Federal Justice Minister, Heiko Maas, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, protested “the Jew-baiting of Maccabi athletes at the Berlin Games.”

Samuels commended the Minister for “welcoming the Maccabi Games to Berlin as a gift that Germany, after the Holocaust, did not deserve,” as also, Federal President Joachim Gauck, who expressed himself “very moved that the Maccabi Games had chosen Berlin.”

The letter pointed out that, “apparently, not everyone shared those sentiments:

- antisemitic taunting, reportedly, by German Muslims of Maccabi athletes at the Hotel Estrel, which hosted several of the teams

- new-Nazi threats against them on the Internet

- a leftist journalist, Silke Burmester, deprecated the athletes, stating: 'Jewish sport has again arrived in Berlin. What should that be? A swastika-throw?' ”

Samuels noted that “Maccabi was born in 1929, holding its first games in Prague as a response to the exclusion of Jewish athletes from national teams, which reached an apogee of Nazi contempt in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.”

The letter stressed that “Maccabi's return to Berlin, to the very stadium built for Adolf Hitler, was to have been a vindication of the united democratic Federal German Republic. Instead, the Jewish contestants had to be warned not to wear Stars of David or Kippot for fear of violence.”

The Centre urged the Minister “to vigorously condemn this Jew-baiting and take all legal measures available to apprehend those who would return us to 1936.”

“This antisemitism targets Jews directly on German soil. It can not be argued away as 'anti-Zionism' or 'anti-Israelism.' The ironic context of Jewish sports reincarnated in Berlin that reawaken dormant phantoms is unacceptable for Jews as for Germans,” concluded Samuels.