Chess Tournament for Jewish and Bedouin Youth in the Negev.
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
KKL-JNF is a partner in this unique enterprise, which was held this year for the third time. “Chess isn’t the main objective here. The tournament provides a multicultural encounter that enables each group to get to know the others,” explained Moshe Yosef, the event’s initiator and organizer.
On August 19th, 2015, around 150 young people from over ten communities in the Negev met up to take part in the chess tournament. Communities represented included Ashkelon, Beersheba, Hura, Kuseifa, Lehavim, Meitar, Mishmar HaNegev, Omer, Rahat, Segev Shalom and the Bnei Shimon and Mount Hebron regional councils. For the three days of the tournament, Jewish and Bedouin, secular and religious, rural and urban children met one another across the chess boards and during the breaks between the games.
“Children of all religions and backgrounds play chess together, think, have fun and get to know one another,” explained Usama al-Huzail, a sports instructor from Rahat. “We don’t have a lot of chess players in the Bedouin sector, but there is growing interest nonetheless,” he added.
As part of its activities to develop the Negev for the benefit of all its inhabitants, KKL-JNF was one of the patrons of the event. “KKL-JNF undertakes a large number of projects in the Negev for the benefit of all local residents, including projects carried out in cooperation with the Bedouin population,” said Ami Uliel, Director of KKL-JNF’s Southern Region. “Our objective is similar to yours in organizing this chess tournament – we want to contribute to the lives of residents of the Negev. And who knows, perhaps the next chess champion will come from here.”
Private donors from both the Jewish and Bedouin sectors in the Negev helped to organize the tournament. Among them was Samir Abu Salam of Segev Shalom, who welcomed the participants on the donors’ behalf and wished the children every success.
The event was organized entirely by volunteers who are well aware of the importance of both the tournament and its objective of bringing the youngsters together. In the words of Yedidia Butbul of Omer, the project’s initiator: “It’s important for us to introduce the children to one another at an early age so that in the future all residents of the Negev can enjoy living in an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual understanding.”
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