WHILE the just-released Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) report paints a concerning picture about the rise of antisemitism, a recent interaction between Hakoah Football Club and a western Sydney team shows there is hope.
After antisemitic remarks were uttered by players from the Mount Druitt Town Rangers in a youth game several months ago, Hakoah Football Club chairman Jon Pillemer reached out to Mount Druitt president Mark Robertson to consider how to respond to the incidents.
“I suggested the best way to resolve the situation was to arrange a tour of the Sydney Jewish Museum for the team members and their parents and for them to meet and hear from a Holocaust survivor,” Pillemer said.
“Mark Robertson and the board of Mount Druitt were very supportive of this and agreed that educating the club members was a great idea.”
The visit to the museum occurred late last month. Following the visit, Robertson wrote to Hakoah Football to thank the club.
“It was a great experience for myself and all that came along,” he wrote.
“Thank you for your hospitality which was much appreciated. My partner and I will be going back to visit the museum again and I’m sure others will too.
“I’m sure we all leant something today that we will take with us forever. Thanks again and look forward to catching up through the season.”
Another Mount Druitt board member wrote, “I’m so glad that we could all come together and experience what we did today.
“I think it was a great idea and we really appreciate your club’s understanding and working with us to turn a not so great experience into a positive experience. Thank you again.”
Pillemer said it was great to be able to work together with Mount Druitt and turn adversity into “something so positive”.
“It is fantastic that we have the Sydney Jewish Museum which gives us the opportunity to educate and engage other communities,” he said.
He added, “We need to utilise sport to bring people from different cultures and backgrounds together rather than divide.
“As a club, we appreciate and respect Mount Druitt’s openness and willingness to deal with these issues in the positive way that they have.
“We look forward to forging a very close relationship between our clubs.”