Palestinians Seethe Over Jerusalem Marathon…But Was Not Always The Case

Today 30,000 runners from 65 countries ran in the Jerusalem Marathon.


Despite the number of charities and good causes benefiting from the race, not everyone was happy about it.

photo credit: AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP

This has been going on for a while now.

A lawyer representing Palestinian government agencies sent letters this week to an American sneaker company and an international hotel chain threatening a boycott and legal action if they did not withdraw their sponsorship of the Jerusalem Marathon, which the Palestinians say violates international law.

The letters to New Balance, a footwear company based in Boston, and the InterContinental Hotel Group, which includes the Crowne Plaza hotel in Jerusalem, say that the marathon, scheduled for March 1, is a “serious breach” of international law because it runs through East Jerusalem, territory that Israel captured during the 1967 war and later annexed. The Palestinians, and much of the world, consider East Jerusalem occupied territory, but the Israelis see it as part of their capital city.

But this was not always the case. From the NY Times, November 10th, 1993:

When Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization reached their historic peace agreement in September, Abed Rabian decided to run in the second annual Jerusalem Marathon.

The 17-year-old from East Jerusalem today joined other Palestinians, Israeli Arabs and Arabs from abroad who used their running shoes to take steps toward normalizing relations between Israel and the Arab world.

“My father told me that the peace accord means that I could run in this race, and I love to run,” said Rabian, who ran the half-marathon with nearly 900 others because he was one year too young to run the 26.2-mile main race through the hills of Jerusalem. “This is sports, and politics is another thing,” he said.

That has not been the conventional wisdom in the Middle East, where the Arab boycott on cultural, economic and diplomatic relations with Israel had led to an absence of regular athletic competition between Arabs and Israelis.

A good reminder of how inconsistent the Arabs identifying as palestinians are. And that if they want to live in peace with us and benefit from a free and open and society, we are ready and willing.

In the meantime, I guess they will just continue biting off their nose to spite their face.


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media