Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cross Border Soccer Practice

Ynet news carries a story about a resident of Eilat (an Eilatian? Eilatonian? Eilatnick? No idea!) Dov Sheref who, of his own volition, contacted a school in Eilat and another one in Aqaba, Jordan (around 30 minutes from downtown Eilat) and with the help of several NGOs created a mixed Israeli-Jordanian soccer team. The Israeli children come from Rabin school in Eilat (in Hebrew only) and the Jordanians come from a private school: Rosary Sister's School.

This is one of several examples of Israeli-Jordanian "rapprochement" and bridge-building to occur amongst children on either side of the border all with the help of what seems to be an umbrella group, connected in some way to the European Union, known as AETP (Aqaba-Eilat: One More Step Towards Peace.) Along with their partners, AETP has organized bi national summer camps, drama groups and sporting activities, like the soccer side described in Ynet.

Projects like these are not original, see for example these earlier postings about joint Israeli-sports teams and summer camps, or this youtube video, distributed by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs about an Arab-Israeli school in Jerusalem.
Unfortunately, however, they seem too few and far between.

Just as it is said that the hate filled copyright violations of Hamas' Mickey Mouse and Palestinian textbooks sow hatred, the argument cuts the other way as well--meeting each other, playing with one another and seeing the other as a real person with similar hopes and interests can help raise children who will find it more difficult to hate and want to hurt their peer on the other side of the line. Therefore, Mr. Sheref and his colleagues who are working to advance mutual understanding, friendship and trust deserve credit for their highly noble efforts.

The e-mail addresses of most of the individuals involved in organizing this project are available here and here, and here as well as here. If you have the time, a word of encouragement to them would likely be appreciated.

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