“The heart of the global March of Life movement is friendship with Israel. That is why every year participants come to Israel to go on the March of the Nations around the time of the anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel according to the Gregorian calendar,” summarized March of Life president and founder, Jobst Bittner, the mission.
“Your dedication, commitment, and love to Israel transmits a crystal-clear message to the whole world: No more racism, no more discrimination, no more antisemitism. Your words of support are combined with real steps on the ground that prove your credo.” This is how Doron Almog (Maj. Gen. Res.), founder of ADI Negev, a village for people with special needs in the South of Israel, commented the March of the Nations.
One of three final marches took place in ADI Negev, together with residents of the village and high-school students and soldiers from the Merhavim region. Shai Hadjaj, Mayor of the Merhavim Regional Council, showed his appreciation for the background of German participants, who faced the Nazi-past of their families: “You are atoning for the sins of your ancestors and you come here, to the land of the victims, in order to make amends. A humane and noble act – also in the spirit of Judaism.”
Hundreds of local residents also participated in the marches in Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee and in Metula in the far north of Israel on the border with Lebanon. Boaz Yosef, Mayor of Tiberias, spoke at the final rally right on the shore of the Sea of Galilee: “Thank you very much to March of Life, who work hard all over the world to support Holocaust survivors, that you came to Tiberias at the Sea of Galilee and brought so many people – we love you!”
In the days before the three final marches, in keeping with the Bible verse, “Arise and walk the length and breadth of the land” (Gen 13:17), the participants hiked through Israel on the famous “Israel National Trail” from Dan in the North to Masada in the South. Each participant was able to choose from 21 stages into which the 600 kilometers of the trail were divided, with four different levels of difficulty. The teams spent three days on the trail and some of them even slept outdoors.
The March of the Nations annually calls all who are connected to the March of Life movement to come to Israel in order to express their friendship to the Jewish state and people. On the 70th anniversary of the founding of the state in 2018, 6000 people answered this call. In 2023, on the 75th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, a major event and march is planned again in Jerusalem from May 14 to 17, 2023 with thousands of participants.