Scott Cushing
Former Newspaper Publisher and Editorial Writer

Paltchik Stands Up for Israel and Slams Jew Hatred

Israeli Judo Champion Peter Paltchik faces off against hate. photo credits: Peter Paltchik

When Peter Paltchik walks into the fighting ring, he knows who his opponent is. He trains and is ready to fight. For the accomplished Israeli athlete, that is easy work. He is a champion Judo martial artist and has represented Israel proudly in competitions around the world. He is a gentle giant whose smile and social media posts about training, family and fighting Antisemitism have earned him respect inside and outside the ring.

During a recent training trip to Japan, however, Paltchik faced off against a different kind of opponent. It was the face of Jew Hatred. The “fight” took the form of a masked mob looking to provoke a confrontation. All because he is a proud Jew and Israeli.

“After a training session, I was walking with teammates and coaches to public transportation, and it was then when I see this big protest. There were Palestinian flags waving and people are screaming at us. I thought, what is this? What are they yelling? I saw it was about Israel and I thought should we jump in? They were against Israel, and I said to myself that we must stand up to them,” said Paltchik.

The masked mob had the traditional hallmarks of other protests around the world where chants and threats are leveled at Jews and the State of Israel. What they didn’t bargain for was an Israeli Judo team ready to stand up to them. “When they saw us, they tried to provoke us into doing something violent or saying something. I knew we had to do something. I then remembered that I had my Judo uniform, and I opened my bag and put on my top because it has an Israel flag. I wanted them to see Israel power – that proud flag on my uniform,” said Paltchik.

The Judo champion put on the uniform to not only show his support for Israel, but to send a message that he wouldn’t back down in the face of Jew hatred and the call for the destruction of his homeland.

The protestors didn’t get what they wanted from the Israeli athlete. What they were hoping for was a physical altercation. Instead, they faced someone whose actions were more powerful than physical violence. “The protestors saw me, and my uniform, and they pointed the megaphone in my face. They screamed and I just stared them down. I looked straight into their eyes. I wanted to show all of them that we are not afraid. Through my eyes, I was showing them the power of Israel.”

Paltchik’s reaction was not lost on the agitators as eyewitness accounts noted the megaphone screaming mostly ended due to the Paltchik stare down. In fact, many protestors sheepishly looked away. They had clearly never seen someone stand up to them.

“During the whole time I was really upset. I kept saying to myself don’t do anything violent. Don’t move your hands. No violence. I may fight in competition, but I am not a violent person. I am peaceful. Fighting is not the Israeli and Jewish way,” Paltchik added.

During the face-off, Paltchik took small steps towards the mob and stared them down. It was at that point he noticed that most of the protestors were not even Japanese. In fact, they were extreme Muslims and professional protestors looking to start a fight. Further, they had no idea about what they were chanting. “I asked them: what are you saying, what are you screaming? Do you even know what you are protesting? I was shocked- they didn’t know. They were just taught phrases and they were just repeating. They know nothing,” noted Paltchik.

The confrontation made a personal mark on Paltchik. During the protest, he met a Palestinian that was born in Gaza and moved to Japan. The immigrant spoke fluent English. Paltchik seized the opportunity and struck up a conversation with the protestor. “We started to talk and debate peacefully, and others tried instigating a fight. I shouted that I want to talk to him and for them to stop. It was an important moment. That’s what is missing in all this. Outside people are trying to provoke us. That has to stop as well,” Paltchik said.

While that special moment was important, Paltchik was clear about what he saw in the eyes of the protestors. “I saw hate. I saw ignorance. These people don’t care, and they do not know anything about Israel and the Jewish people. All they know is hate and they can’t tell you why. Why is that?”

For Peter Paltchik, the hostage crisis and the war on terror is especially emotional and heartbreaking. He is the proud father of twin boys and sees a world that is crazy.  “My twins will join the IDF when they get older, and they will fight for their country. It scares me but I, as a dad and along with my wife, will prepare them to be ready.”

Paltchik hopes that others will follow his lead and stand up for Israel and the Jewish people. “For me, I know we must stand up. You can’t ignore what is happening. We are a strong nation, and we must be strong in the face of this hate.”

About the Author
Michael "Scott" Cushing serves as Special Advisor to the Nassau County Executive on the Combating Antisemitism Task Force. He also serves on the Community Advisory Board of Northwell Long Island Jewish Hospital, Valley Stream, New York. Further, he is former Publisher and Editorial writer for the Gateway-Bulletin Newspapers. He served in senior staff positions for the New York State Assembly and New York State Senate for over twenty years. He is active in Israeli and Jewish affairs in Nassau County.
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