In late October, the first race in Israel for the cure of breast cancer, organized by the US-based Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization, will be held around the Old City of Jerusalem.

Activists in the fight against breast cancer – including philanthropists, physicians, researchers and survivors – will not only run but also attend a scientific conference in the capital to discuss more cost-effective, portable and accurate screening for women’s cancers worldwide.

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The Israel Mission Delegation of the voluntary organization, the world’s largest in the field of breast cancer, has sponsored races in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in recent years to raise money for breast cancer research and awareness.

The event, from October 25 to 29 – with the race on October 28, was announced on Wednesday at a Washington press conference by Nancy Brinker, the organization’s Jewish founder and CEO, whose sister Susan Komen died three decades ago from breast cancer. Also present were Nancy Falchuk, national president of the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization, and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who is in the US on a working visit.

“As a runner myself, I know the power of these events to unite people toward a common purpose,” said Barkat, who will help lead the Susan G. Komen Israel Race for the Cure.

In Israel, breast cancer remains the most common form of women’s cancers and is increasing, accounting for nearly 30 percent of all new cancer cases. About 4,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer in Israel each year.

Since 1982, Komen has given nearly $2 million to organizations in Israel, including the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Hebrew University-Hadassah University Medical Center, Beit Natan (a cancer center specifically for the haredi population) and Life’s Door.

“Komen’s first international research grant went to Israel 16 years ago, and we have enjoyed longstanding friendships and productive collaborations in Israel ever since,” Brinker said.

Although the organizers said that the events in Israel “provides opportunities to continue Komen’s long-standing partnerships in Israel and around the world with organizations such as the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, as well as open doors to new collaborations with organizations such as the Israel Cancer Association,” The Jerusalem Post learned that the ICA was not consulted about it. The ICA has for 50 years raised funds for breast cancer research, technology, manpower and information, with 95% of the money coming from Israelis.

No comment was obtainable either from ICA as to why the event will be held without the Israeli organization’s coordination or participation or from the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem about whether it will participate in the five-day event.

A Komen spokesman said only that “we have talked to ICA many times to discuss opportunities to work with them now and in the future.

“Our intent is to augment, not supplant, the good work that breast cancer organizations are doing in Israel, as this is how we work in all the countries that we operate in, including the US.”

Last October, a Komen conference held in Cairo made news because two Israelis said they were barred by the Egyptian authorities from attending. Brinker then claimed that despite threats in Egypt, Israelis were “not barred” from the Cairo conference, but the Foreign Ministry and the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization insisted that they had been.
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