MARCH of the Living (MOTL) Australia, which has sent some 3000 Jewish Australians to Poland and on to Israel as part of the worldwide MOTL program to memorialise the Shoah, is partnering with Jewish and wider groups in the launch of a bold new initiative to combat antisemitism through education.
The program will feature three well-known Australians as its ambassadors – Olympic swimming great Ian Thorpe, journalist Nick McKenzie and educator Dr Kate Hadwen – who all took part in this year’s MOTL activities and visited the memorial site of Auschwitz in Poland.
Thorpe, a five-time Olympic gold medallist, McKenzie, an investigative journalist for Nine, and Hadwen, principal of Pymble Ladies College in Sydney, are public figures whose achievements make them role models and excellent advocates against antisemitism and hatred, said MOTL Australia co-president Cedric Geffen.
MOTL is partnering with global group, the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) – and with the Gandel Foundation, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and The AJN – to establish the 2023 Innovation Lab Against Antisemitism. Gandel Foundation will provide seed funding for the project.
The initiative, to be launched soon by Gandel CEO Vedran Drakulic, who took part in this year’s MOTL, will ask applicants to propose innovative plans for teaching young Australians about the evils of antisemitism and racism. Judges will select the best proposals for development and announce these in February.
The winner and runners-up will have the opportunity to be mentored in further shaping their proposals by the three MOTL ambassadors and to receive further training and networking opportunities.
Geffen told The AJN the launch will go ahead during the Hamas–Israel war, because it is apt to launch a program combating antisemitism during a war which represents “blind hatred of Jews and Israel”.
He said that although MOTL began as a way to memorialise Holocaust victims and pay tribute to survivors, “fighting antisemitism has become more and more a part of” what MOTL has been doing. “You can’t separate the Holocaust and study of the Holocaust from antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment.”