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Pardes Yehuda: The Peace Team--Joint Israeli-Palestinian team to debut at Australian Football tourney

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Peace Team--Joint Israeli-Palestinian team to debut at Australian Football tourney

cross-posted at

Ha'aretz reports that a new team will debut next week at the Australian Football League's International Cup, a joint Palestinian-Israeli team dubbed, the "Peace Team".

16 nations will compete for the prize, but only one team will be made of two nations. According to the article:
"The Peace Team is funded by the Peres Center for Peace and the East Jerusalem-based Al-Quds Association for Democracy and Dialogue. The idea for the team originated when James Demetriou, brother of AFL Chief Executive Andrew Demetriou, was introduced to the Peres Center during a visit to Israel. Soon afterwards the AFL approved the project..."
According to the AFL's official site, "The combined Israeli-Palestinian Peace Team will make its International Cup debut against Great Britain in the second group of matches played from 1pm. Sweden, China, Finland and India will also compete for the first time."

In my opinion, real peace, not diplomatic peace, but real peace, peace between people, starts with cross-cultural projects like this one. Even something less public, like the online endeavor, is a positive thing. Palestinians and Israelis need to cooperate, and work together, to be able to live together. Even if peace is signed on paper, peace is not real until it is in the hearts of the inhabitants of the countries.

The Ha'aretz report implies as much, and adds this bit regarding the political difficulties:
With half the squad coming from East Jerusalem and the West Bank, there have been some difficulties. Training sessions, held mostly at Kibbutz Netivah Lamed Hey, near Ben Shemen, have been cancelled a couple of times due to closures of the West Bank.

One player from Hebron even pulled out of the team after receiving threats from fellow Palestinians who suspected him of collaborating with Israel.

But as Barassi said, the project's success is best measured by its effect on ordinary members of the community. And judging by the friendly interaction amongst team members, this has been the case.

The team has stuck to a tight schedule, given only a few months to learn the game and train before they leave for Australia on August 19.
But the important part is that the team is getting along; the team can serve as models for their home communities on the possibilities of coexistence and cooperation in the future.

For more information on the team from the Peres Center, look here.

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