Disappointment is the main feeling expressed by Maccabi Australia and AJAX Senior Football Club, about a social media post – since deleted – by retired AFL star Bachar Houli.
On October 22 he shared a video called “A genocide is occurring in Palestine”, originally posted by former All Blacks rugby player Sonny Bill Williams.
Houli – whose foundation is a key partner in the annual Jewish-Muslim Jolson-Houli Cup – deleted that post, and replaced it with a statement promoting the values of respect, peace and love.
AFL commissioner Paul Bassat, former AFL diversity manager Ali Fahour and Jewish Richmond fan Paul Naphtali discussed the matter with Houli, and helped him to understand why his original post was unacceptable.
AJAX Senior Football Club president Alida Lipton told The AJN on Monday, “Bachar’s track record has been to build bridges with the Jewish community, not break them down.”
Referring to the content of his deleted post she added, “His comments are deeply offensive and disappointing to our players, who played in the Jolson-Houli Cup for the past three years, as well as to the club.”
Maccabi Australia president Jeff Sher said the roof body of Jewish sport in Australia is “disappointed with recent social media posts by prominent sportspeople, where the content promotes anti-Israel, anti-Zionist propaganda, and has a powerful and divisive effect by spreading misinformation, or failing to acknowledge the large scale acts of terrorism against innocent civilians in Israel on October 7”.
“Those connected to sport, and in particular elite athletes, bear a responsibility as role models to set a positive example on and off the field.
“Maccabi Australia calls on all sportspeople, roof bodies and grassroots organisations to speak up against terrorism, promote diplomacy and embrace diversity and to condemn all forms of racism … including antisemitism.”