Giro d’Italia, Mahmoud Abbas and Jerusalem

The launching of the race in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, is a sign of solidarity, of identification.

TEAM SKY rider Chris Froome of Britain starts the 101st Giro d’Italia cycling race in Jerusalem on May 4  (photo credit: REUTERS)
TEAM SKY rider Chris Froome of Britain starts the 101st Giro d’Italia cycling race in Jerusalem on May 4
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Arch of Titus has been standing in Rome, capital of Italy, ever since the destruction of the Holy Temple. The monument represents Titus’s defeat of the Jewish people and the loss of sovereignty over our homeland. The engraving on the arch of Roman soldiers carrying away the great golden menorah symbolizes the end of our once glorious kingdom and the beginning of 1,878 years of exile.
Italy has been holding the Giro d’Italia bicycle race since 1909, an event second in importance only to the Tour de France. Although sometimes the route partially crosses into neighboring countries, the Giro d’Italia has always been launched from Italy. That is, until now.
We are now entering the 51st year of the liberation and reunification of Jerusalem, the historic and eternal capital of the Jewish people. This city is the root of our attachment to our homeland, and the certificate of our independence.
On May 4, 2018, for the first time in its history, the Giro d’Italia took place in a country other than Italy. Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, was chosen as the starting point. The image of Roman looters who left the Holy Temple in ruins, as depicted on the Arch of Titus, is etched into the memory of the Jewish people. Now, the residents of that land have returned to Jerusalem, not as invaders, but as athletes. The place that the Romans thought would never stand again now hosts their descendants in what is one of the world’s largest sports competitions.
They return here, to our land, to an independent, flourishing country that is a source of hope, faith, innovation and vision for millions of people, religious groups, business leaders and societies. Today, the modern residents of Rome can see that the descendants of the ancient Israelites live in a large and powerful country with amazing capabilities, advanced military power and a democratic social structure that many of the neighboring countries can only dream of.
The launching of the race in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, is a sign of solidarity, of identification. Today, that same menorah which for generations was a symbol of our humiliation is now the official seal of the State of Israel.
Next week the American embassy will be moving to Jerusalem, a huge step and an example for other countries that demonstrates an understanding that the connection between Jerusalem and the State of Israel can not be severed.
Yet as Israel strengthens in the international arena, Jews around the world are facing a rise in antisemitism. The government of Iran does not conceal its intentions to destroy us. Modern Iran is the location of ancient Persia, where the wicked Haman tried to annihilate the Jews in the days of Esther and Mordechai. Antisemitic groups are also on the rise throughout Europe, the US and other countries, with Jewish civilians being murdered in France. Iran and other purveyors of a radical form of Islam are exporting their own antisemitic narratives.
The lie-filled antisemitic speech by the Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas last week was in complete contrast to the reality of the Italian bicycle event.
Since its establishment, the State of Israel has extended its hand to its neighbors. But as a man who wrote his doctorate thesis on the idea that the Holocaust is a myth, Abbas continues to rewrite history, lie to his people, and incite against Jews. He recites antisemitic slogans and uses hate rhetoric. The Palestinian Authority chairman boasts of fabricating history, claiming that there has not been a single incident of violence against Jews in Arab countries. He conveniently leaves out the forced eviction of North African Jewry, the riots and deportation of the Jews of Libya, and the infamous Farhud in Iraq.
In these days we are celebrating the 70th year of Israel’s independence and the 51st year of the liberation of Jerusalem. In these days we are welcoming the embassy of the United States to its new home in Jerusalem, a sign of solidarity with the past and future of the people of Israel and its capital city.
A little advice for chairman Abbas and the heads of the PA: stop using antisemitic narratives. Stop inciting against Jews. Stop educating future generations to hate. It will not help you or your people. Learn a lesson from the Italian athletes and recognize that Jerusalem is the eternal undivided capital of the Jewish people. We are here now and we are here for good.
The writer is vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization.