PerspectivesSome time last year, ESPN.com's NBA draft guru Chad Ford surprised his readers with an announcement that he would be reducing his contributions to the site, as he was taking a position at BYU-Hawaii to teach conflict resolution. Thanks to True Hoop's Henry Abbott, I came across a piece written by Ford about a program that is trying to build relationships between Israeli and Palestinian kids through basketball. While the story was written even before the start of the recent conflict between Israel and Lebanon, it resonates even deeper today after what we've seen the past few weeks. The depictions are both sad and hopeful, talking about the camaraderie the kids develop as they take to the court, and the way their differences are highlighted once they spend time off of it, such as when they attend a live basketball game and the chants from the Israeli sports fans send chills down the spines of the Palestinian kids.
Nations use sports in an effort to prove their strength both to other nations and to their own citizens.
Such zeal can look harmless when you belong to the dominant group. But from the nervous looks Khaled keeps shooting the Maccabi fans, it's clear the Israel-flag-waving zealots on the sideline also can evoke fear.
When the Israeli national anthem begins playing, Pini and the other three Israelis quickly get to their feet and stand at attention. Khaled and his Palestinian friends hesitate. To Khaled and many Palestinians, Israel is an occupying force that has stolen their land and oppressed their people. Do they stand? After a moment of hesitation, Khaled rises from his chair and his teammates follow. His smile is crooked, though. Sweat runs down his forehead. Peacebuilding isn't easy.
Our position is so simple and natural that we are amazed it should even be questioned. It is exactly the same position you in America take in regard to the unhappy European Jews. You are sorry for them, but you do not want them in your country.
We do not want them in ours, either. Not because they are Jews, but because they are foreigners. We would not want hundreds of thousands of foreigners in our country, be they Englishmen or Norwegians or Brazilians or whatever.
Think for a moment: In the last 25 years we have had one third of our entire population forced upon us. In America that would be the equivalent of 45,000,000 complete strangers admitted to your country, over your violent protest, since 1921. How would you have reacted to that?
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