Paltchik dedicated his momentous achievement to the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre and to the Israeli victims of Hamas’ terrorism near Gaza.
By: United with Israel Staff
Israeli judoka Peter Paltchik, who was the second Israeli to win a gold medal at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, causing the Israeli national anthem “Hatikvah” to ring out in the United Arab Emirates, dedicated the momentous occasion to the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre and to Israeli victims of Hamas’ terrorism near Gaza.
Paltchik beat Elmar Gasimov of Azerbaijan on Monday to win the gold medal in the under-100 kilogram weight class.
After receiving his medal on the podium, the anthem was played in Abu Dhabi, just the second time it has been heard in a Gulf state sporting contest, and only a day after it was first played.
“Our Peter is giving the sweetest dessert to a historic journey, and made the Hatikva heard for the second time in the arena in Abu Dhabi,” Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev said in a statement. “The members of the delegation proved superiority throughout the contest by winning five medals. The whole team showed a tremendous fighting spirit.”
Writing about his experience in the Israel Hayom daily, Paltchik said that he dedicated “the medals and the respect earned by our team to the families of the victims of the anti-Semitic attack on Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue. I send my condolences to the families of the murdered and wish a speedy recovery to the injured.”
On Saturday, an anti-Semite entered the Tree of Life synagogue in the city and massacred 11 peoples, including a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor.
“I also dedicate these medals to the residents of the Gaza periphery, who have faced difficult times in recent days. My heart is with you,” he added.
The residents in Israeli communities surrounding the Gaza Strip have been subjected for the past seven months to a violent and vicious terrorist campaign led by Hamas.
The playing of “Hatikavh” in the UAE filled Israel with immense pride as it came after a bitter battle over anti-Israel discrimination in the international sports arena.
Last year, UAE organizers allowed Israeli competitors to take part in the international competition hosted in their country on the condition that they do not display their flag or play their anthem, even if they win a gold medal.
Israel filed a complaint with the International Judo Federation, which temporarily suspended the UAE from hosting the competition, saying that it was not eligible to host international events if it discriminated against athletes based on the countries they represented.
The UAE relented, allowing Israel to compete on the same basis as all other countries, subsequently leading to displays of Israeli national pride on Arab soil.