Three Jerusalem City Council members from the opposition sent a warning letter
last week to sports apparel company Adidas, one of the major sponsors of the
International Jerusalem Marathon, calling on the company to withdraw its
sponsorship of the race if the municipality did not remove east Jerusalem
segments from the route.
“There’s no reason why it needs to go through
the eastern part of the city,” said City Councilman Pepe Alalu (Meretz), who
heads the opposition. “A marathon does not bring Jews and Arabs together. This
is just an aggressive move.”
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The letter was co-signed by Laura Wharton
and Meir Margalit, both of Meretz.
The current route of the marathon,
which will be held on March 25, starts at the Knesset and takes runners all the
way out to Pisgat Ze’ev, before circling Hebrew University, entering the Old
City at the Zion Gate, wending its way through the hills of Rehavia and Talpiyot
to the promenade, and finally doubling back to the Knesset.
of the Jerusalem City Council, we feel it is our duty to inform you that this
year, the path of the marathon is due to run through parts of east Jerusalem
that are considered occupied territory by the international community and by
us,” the Meretz letter to Adidas stated.
“For that reason, we object to
the marathon as it is now planned and believe it is important that you realize
that a significant portion of the Israeli population as well as an overwhelming
majority of the general population abroad will doubtless express their
opposition once the details of the marathon are made public,” it
City Councilman Elisha Peleg (Likud), who holds the sport
portfolio, accused the opposition of skewering every initiative and event that
the municipality created.
“A small part of it runs through east Jerusalem
because east Jerusalem is part of Jerusalem, and that’s not political; it’s
factual,” he said.
He added that if the marathon’s route did not go
through east Jerusalem, people would complain that the municipality was ignoring
half of the residents.
Alalu dismissed the idea that the city was using a
marathon to unite the two sides of the city.
“It reminds me of the
wellknown story: If they don’t have bread, let them eat cake,” Alalu said. He
plans to reach out to other sponsors, as well as runners themselves, and
encourage them to boycott the race until the route is changed.
three city council members are contradicting themselves,” said Peleg. “On the
one hand, they’re saying we don’t do enough for infrastructure and budgets in
east Jerusalem, and on the other hand, they’re saying, ‘Don’t do anything
there.’” This is the first time Jerusalem is holding an international marathon.
Over 1,000 runners are expected to take part in the race, with a half-marathon
and 10k routes offered as well (www.jerusalemmarathon.
hope Jerusalem’s hills and breathtaking scenery, as well as historical and
political elements, will make the race an interesting if unorthodox choice for
Peleg said the municipality would not change the
route, and he doubted that Adidas would respond to the opposition’s
“Adidas will not take this call seriously because they’re not
involved in politics. They’re involved in sports,” he said.
not respond to questions.