Photo Credit: The Bible Marathon
The Bible Marathon

The Bible Marathon, which traces the oldest recorded marathon route in history from Rosh Ha’ayin to Shiloh, last week had its membership revoked by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) after BDS activists claimed that its route violates international law.

Unlike the Greek Marathon, commemorating the run of a messenger to announce the victory of the Greek army over the invading Persians, the Israeli Bible Marathon commemorates a terrible defeat of the Israelites in the hand of the Philistines – a defeat that included the death of the two corrupt sons of the High Priest and the victorious enemy taking hold of God’s Holy Ark (yes, the one that melted Nazi faces in the first Indiana Jones).

Advertisement

That same day a Benjamite ran from the battle line and went to Shiloh with his clothes torn and dust on his head,” reports Samual I 4:12. The runner from Benjamin hurried over to the High priest Eli, who was ninety-eight years old and whose eyes had failed so that he could not see him. “Israel fled before the Philistines, and the army has suffered heavy losses. Also your two sons, Hophni and Pinhas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured,” the runner announced, at which point Eli fell backward off his chair, his neck was broken and he died.

The organizers of the annual Bible race received the notice from Paco Borao, President of AIMS, rescinding their membership, based on the claim that the race goes beyond the boundaries of the State of Israel and therefore is a violation of UNSC resolution 2334.

Kontorovich explained: “There is no international law that prohibits running the route of the world’s oldest race because it finishes in Ancient Shiloh. You can’t have one international law for Israel and another for the rest of the world. By definition international law applies to everybody.”

The Israeli Marathon Association instructed Professor Eugene Kontorovich, Professor of International Law at Northwestern University and Director of International Law at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum, to represent them, and he responded in a formal letter to Borao in which he clearly showed that holding a cultural or sports event was not a violation of any law but rather a common practice worldwide.

Kontorovich explained: “There is no international law that prohibits running the route of the world’s oldest race because it finishes in Ancient Shiloh. You can’t have one international law for Israel and another for the rest of the world. By definition international law applies to everybody.”

Kontorovich cited multiple annual sporting events, including marathons that are held in disputed or occupied territories:

“Examples include the Internationale de l’Automobile, which sanctions Formula 1 races in Jerusalem; Fédération Western Sahara; the International Triathlon Union authorizes Moroccan events in Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and recognizes Moroccan teams in occupied Western Sahara; and the International Trail Running Association approves races in Russian-occupied Crimea. In none of these cases have these actions been thought to be prohibited by international law.”

Kontorovich argued that

“AIMS has for many years given full membership to the Laayoune Marathon, which takes place entirely in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara. Indeed, on the AIMS website and catalog, the event is described as being in “Morocco” despite the rejection of this characterization by the international community, which regards it as occupied.”

The letter ended:

“We respectfully request that the Bible Marathon promptly be given AIMS membership as required by the association’s rules, and by its longstanding practice. Such a decision will in no way involve an expression of opinion on AIMS’ part on the underlying political dispute. Failing this, we will resist AIMS’s unjust and politicized denial of membership to the world’s oldest running event in every forum available to us.”

Thousands of runners from Israel and abroad are expected to participate in the October 6th Bible Marathon, in spite of the AIMS decision, and in spite of the fact that it commemorates one of the most horrifying events in Jewish history.

Thousands of Jews and Christians are also expected to lodge formal complaints with AIMS, for discriminating against the race because of its unique Biblical roots.

Advertisement