Peace Now (R390).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
AJewish kid from Kiryat Shmona, a Muslim kid from Rajar and a Christian kid from
Nazareth are all playing hockey together. Words like respect, unity, peace and
acceptance spring to mind when we think about this situation. These kids,
however, are thinking of different words: teammates, winning, fun. These kids do
not see playing together as a political act. These kids do not discriminate and
demand segregated teams.
These kids do not utter racial
Language is not a barrier to teamwork.
Religion is not a
barrier to teamwork. Customs are not a barrier to teamwork. These kids just want
to play hockey. These kids are not opponents because some are Jewish and some
are Arab; they are opponents because some are wearing blue, and some are wearing
red. To these kids, everyone is just another kid. Just another potential friend.
Just a human being.
Interactions like the one described above frequently
occur in Israel, the world’s most polarized and condemned country. This
particular story takes place daily at the Canada Center in Metula, the most
northern city in Israel. Kids of all ages and backgrounds congregate here to
experience the peaceful powers of sport. This is not some PR
This is real life. Standing in the dressing room is not so
different than standing in one in North America; there are shouts, high fives,
and the smell of effort (not too pleasant a stench, mind you). The rink is not a
place to make political statements; it is a place to bond with friends and play.
Ask a kid playing there about the big message they are sharing, and they will be
flustered. To them, all they are doing is playing sports with other kids.
Simple, yet it encapsulates the message beautifully.
Muslims, Jews and Christians work together in situations like this all the time.
Peace is prevalent.
Peace in the global sense of treaties and
deweaponization is extraneous.
True peace is not between
True peace is between individuals who coexist without
prejudiced hate. The need to categorize and critique each other is killing us
all. Let us not fear difference, but embrace it.
Let us not judge people
by their skin color or physique, but by their personalities.
Let us not
hate, but love.
Peace is a matter of opening one’s heart up to the
possibility that variance is valuable. Imagine if everyone was the same. What a
boring world it would be.
IN CANADA and the United States, Israel
Apartheid Week (IAW) is currently in full swing, running from March 4-8. The
IAW’s goal, according to its website, “is to educate people about the nature of
Israel as an apartheid system.” UN resolution 194 is what governs their views
regarding necessary Israeli action (return the Golan Heights, east Jerusalem and
the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian Right of Return are the main items).
Boycotting and condemning Israel is rationalized through lectures and movies; it
is essentially a public forum of senseless hatred.
ISRAEL MAY not be
perfect, but it is far from an apartheid state. It is a country where people who
differ from each other unite and build something special. It is a country where
Jews, Christians and Arabs cheer each other on during hockey games. Yes, there
is racism in Israel.
There is bigotry is Israel. There are certainly
problems in Israel. But name me a country where there aren’t these things.
Students on campuses across North America are tragically unleashing
anti-Semitism and stupidity. Our own democratic rules are counteracting each
other; freedom of speech is allowing animosity to be spread. Freedom of speech
is allowing people to act on prejudices.
The IAW in itself is
counterproductive; all it shows is that the Jews need Israel as a Jewish
homeland. North America may feel safe for Jews today, but no one knows about
The innocence of kids should teach us all a lesson: look past a
person’s exterior. Search into their souls.
Judge a person not by their
background, but by their dreams for the future. During this year’s IAW, let us
make peace between people. Because that’s all we truly are. People.The
writer is a gap-year student from Canada living in northern Israel.