Israeli judokas confront pro-Palestinian protesters at Japan training camp

Sagi Muki and Peter Palchik scolded for confronting pro-Palestinian protesters while in Japan for training; Culture and Sports Ministry plans to review protocols after not being informed of team's departure

Nadav Zenziper|
Israeli judokas Sagi Muki and Peter Paltchik confronted a crowd of pro-Palestinian protesters over the weekend while in Japan for an Israeli judo national team training camp.
The two shared posts on social media showing them coming up close with protesters at a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Tokyo while wearing Israeli symbols. However, the videos were swiftly removed thereafter.
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Muki shared a post and deleted it
Muki shared a post and deleted it
Muki shared a post and deleted it
In his social media post, Muki shared that the protesters took his uniform away from him. "After a tough morning workout, I went to eat and found myself in a pro-Hamas demonstration," he recounted in the now-deleted post.
"It's so sad for me to see them brainwashed, unaware of the facts, just going with the flow because of what they see in the media. It was so hard, I tried to fight for the truth for the State of Israel and it was much harder than training, it crushed me. I wanted to send strength to everyone who does this every day, we have no other country.
"They simply took my uniform, simply snatched it and ran away, I didn't understand where my uniform went. I will continue to stand and represent the State of Israel because we have no other country. I am proud of my country, proud of my people, proud of everyone who fights for us in the army, who does everything so that we will be protected. I will continue to represent Israel honorably on the international stage."
Paltchik wrote, "This morning we saw flags from a distance, and we decided that we were going to represent Israel within the demonstration. At some point, I put on my judo uniform with the Israeli flag. I will never stand aside when there are disgraceful demonstrations against my country. Along the way, I met a stubborn guy who wanted to hear my opinion. We had a respectful conversation, and I explained to him what I think about October 7 and why all their demonstrations were unnecessary, considering the Japanese don't understand the conflict."
The Culture and Sports Ministry and the Olympic Committee on Sunday reprimanded Muki and Paltchik, as well as the Judo Association, for not being informed of the national team's trip as per security protocols during wartime and only having learned about it through the judokas' social media posts. However, the delegation was not subject to these security protocols as Japan is considered a low-risk country.
The Shin Bet internal security agency expressed its frustration with the athletes who engaged the protesters while wearing judo uniforms with Israeli flags emblazoned on them.
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שר התרבות והספורט מיקי זוהר
שר התרבות והספורט מיקי זוהר
Sports and Culture Minister Miki Zohar
(Photo: Dana Kopel)
The ministry has updated the regulations, requiring associations to inform them of any overseas trips, particularly during this sensitive period, even if for training camps. Athletes will be expected to maintain a low profile and avoid initiating contact.
"The ministry was not aware of the departure of the judokas to the training camp. Given the security situation, it would have been better if the ministry had received an update regarding the Israeli delegation's departure for security clarifications. Unfortunately, antisemitism is rampant in other parts of the world these days, and we must protect our athletes and be much more cautious," read the ministry's statement.
"Even though it's Japan, the athletes risked their lives, it's irresponsible," Olympic Committee officials said.
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