Offbeat Israel: Heists, Ultimate Frisbee and the Peace Process
At last we have it. An answer to the million-dollar question: How do you bring Israelis and Palestinians together?
And it is … crime.
A bank in the Palestinian-controlled West Bank city of Ramallah was robbed last week, and the thieves made off with the equivalent of $30,000.
Palestinian police have revealed that of the six thieves, three were Palestinians, two were Israeli Arabs, and one was an Israeli Jew. Now isn’t that just a picture of a harmonious interdenominational group?
Palestinian police Colonel Adnan al-Damiri has reportedly said that the Israeli Jew “was the mastermind of the operation.” He said that coordination between Arabs and Jews could signal a “dangerous” trend in crime.
There is a more legal — though equally quirky — proposal for bringing together Israelis and Palestinians being put forward at the moment.
A group of American and Israeli Frisbee enthusiasts think their sport could be the answer to this region’s troubles.
Ultimate Peace, which they are organizing this week, is an Ultimate Frisbee festival which will bring together disadvantaged youth from Palestinian and Jewish communities from the West Bank and within Israel.
The idea followed a visit to Israel by the American Ultimate Frisbee team, the Matza Balls. During that visit, the team taught Israeli children and promoted the sport of Ultimate Frisbee. The American visitors returned home happy at what they achieved with Israeli youngsters but upset that their game was not being played by Palestinians.
The American Ultimate Frisbee enthusiasts are joining forces with Israeli enthusiasts and the Peres Center for Peace to run the event. Gal Peleg, Director of Sports at the Peres Center for Peace, says on the event website: “Sport has an unparalleled ability to overcome barriers of language, politics and religion. Especially a sport like Ultimate Frisbee, which emphasizes fair-play, team cooperation and mutual respect, and offers a unique chance for Israeli and Palestinian youngsters to set aside their differences and work together to achieve a common goal.”
Peleg’s department has produced this video on its ethos of using sport to bridge gaps between communities: