Lesson from Mandela

Being right has cost the lives of so many and destroyed families from both sides.

By ROBI DAMELIN
June 11, 2018 20:54
3 minute read.
People cheer in front of a Nelson Mandela statue in Ramallah

People cheer in front of a Mandela statue during the inauguration of Nelson Mandela Square in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)

 
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Something has finally happened to make the man in the street aware of the fact that actions have consequences. Lionel Messi and his team from Argentina will no longer bless the Holy land and Jerusalem with their presence, a drama equal in proportion to a national tragedy. Hmm, shades of sunny South Africa.

In the days of apartheid, nothing was more important to the white skin than rugby, cricket and any other sport. All self-respecting South Africans of the pale hue regarded games as close to religion, and would not be caught dead without knowing the cricket score, or who won the tennis match. When the world caught on that South Africans were sports mad, they began to exclude them from rugby tournaments, cricket and, worst of all, the Olympic Games.

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To the average Joe, this was worse than any economic threat. I do not usually use the a-word, but in this case it is just to illustrate how easy it is to become a pariah of the world and how sport can play such an important role in perhaps bringing an end to a situation that, in the long run, cannot sustain itself, in our case meaning the occupation.

Just a thought: If Miri Regev, in her role of culture and sport minister, would have extended an invitation to Palestinian Football Association head Jibril Rajoub to attend the match with, say, 50 children from each village in the West Bank; and if she would have opened the prison of Gaza to another 500 children to attend the match and have them travel together with, say, 500 Israeli children from the surrounding Israeli towns, would that not have been a better way to handle the event?

And what would have happened if they had held the game in Haifa and all of the hundreds of children could have been the guests of the mayor? Sounds crazy, I know, but I think that comparing this drama to Munich did not win the minister any points, nor did it win Israel any.


MY MIND goes back to the extraordinary Nelson Mandela. He understood the worshiping of rugby by South Africans, and donned a jersey worn by the captain of the Springbok team, Francois Pienaar, at a game against England in the World Cup. Mandela showed the way toward reconciliation by putting his trust in the Springboks. This gesture went a long way toward the healing of the Rainbow nation.

Now what looms in the not too distant future is the Eurovision Song Contest 2019. Let’s cut off our noses to spite our faces and insist that Jerusalem host the event. Antisemitism would not be an excuse we could use, after our extraordinary win this year.

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How about we hold the competition in Tel Aviv, where it would be more fun, and ask each competing country to send its most important peace activist and expert on conflict resolution to a conference in Jerusalem?

This might be an alternative to the massive drama that awaits our diplomatic corps, one that would allow all countries to participate in an event that has millions of viewers all over the world. Imagine the conference running in conjunction with the Eurovision contest and both getting coverage. Would that not go a long way to bringing Israel to its senses and not to its knees?

I appeal to the powers that be on both sides to stop the cycle of violence by not always having to be right and by for once succeeding. Being right has cost the lives of so many and destroyed families from both sides.

The writer is a bereaved mother and a member and spokeswoman of The Parents Circle – Families Forum.

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