ISRAELI ATHLETES RETURN MACCABIAH MEDALS
TO MACCABI WORLD UNION PRESIDENT AT KNESSET INQUIRY
At the hearing of the Special Committee in the matter of the Maccabiah Bridge Disaster held at the Knesset yesterday, 3 prominent Israeli athletes confronted Maccabi World Union (MWU) President Ronald Bakalarz and returned their medals they had won in previous Maccabiahs to him.(Another Israeli athlete who was unable to attend at the Knesset also returned his medals.) The athletes expressed their disappointment at MWU's attitude following the tragedy and the refusal of Bakalarz to step aside at least until the conclusion of the legal and parliamentary proceedings.
Committee Chairman MK Micha Goldman repeated his previous recommendation that the executives of MWU step down and accept moral responsibility for the tragedy.
Angry MWU officials, in anticipation of adverse findings and recommendations, launched an attack on the Special Committee, calling it a "Kangaroo Court." President Bakalarz initially refused to state his case. He then delivered part of his prepared speech, saying that MWU had done whatever was possible to support the families. MWU Chairman Uzi Netanel as well as MWU Executive members Tal Brody and Roy Salamon of Canada also represented MWU.
However, none of these MWU officials acknowledged MWU's role in the disaster.
Speaking from Sydney on behalf of the victims, Colin Elterman said:"MWU has done nothing for us. We again rebut what the MWU executives say. We reiterate that we find their conduct following the disaster to be reprehensible.
MWU is in crisis as
* Its Chairman and President are under fire in the Knesset.
* It has massive civil lawsuits pending against it.
* Its Organising Committee Chairman is under criminal indictment and MWU continues to support him (without criticism).
* Its associate company is being sued by the Israel Land Authority for non-payment of rent of over A$4million and for termination of its lease on the Kfar Maccabiah site for breach of covenants by trading for profit.
* Former Maccabiah athletes are returning their medals
* MWU is an embarrassment to the Israeli public.
We again call upon Messrs Bakalarz and Netanel to resign so that MWU may be overhauled and a true dialogue with the families commence."
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