Lakers point guard Farmar teaches coexistence at Kiryat Gat clinic

NBA's only Jewish player gives support to the Peres Center for Peace's "Twinned Peace Sports Schools" program.

By BEN SALES
August 6, 2008 04:28
3 minute read.
Lakers point guard Farmar teaches coexistence at Kiryat Gat clinic

Jordan Farmar 224.88. (photo credit: Courtesy of Nir Keidar)

Jordan Farmar, the NBA's only Jewish player, spent more than an hour teaching a group of Israeli and Palestinian children dribbling, shooting and defensive skills in a basketball clinic in Kiryat Gat on Tuesday. The Los Angeles Lakers reserve point guard had been invited to the Rabin School to give support to the Peres Center for Peace "Twinned Peace Sports Schools" program. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post after the practice, Farmar said he enjoyed being part of a sporting exercise that helped bridge the gap between cultures. "I realized that I can take advantage of these situations not only to help myself but to help other people in the process," said Farmar. "We can all work together, we can all fit together and we can all have peace with one another." The son of an African-American father and white Jewish mother, Farmar noted that his diverse background allowed him to transcend cultural barriers in his hometown of Los Angeles and also gave him insight into working toward conflict resolution here. "If I walk into a black neighborhood in LA, they can relate to me, if I walk into a white neighborhood they can relate to me and if I walk into a Jewish neighborhood they can relate to me," said Farmar, who explained that his black friends would celebrate Passover with him when he was growing up. "I come from a lot of different backgrounds, and I don't take sides or judge anybody." Farmar said he believes sports are an effective vehicle for that resolution because they allow participants to forget about external issues. "No matter where you live or what's going on, people like sports," he said. "People riot for their sports teams and go out all night. It's important for us to reach out to those who have a connection to it." This being his third trip to Israel, Farmar said that he tries to understand the conflict from all sides in order to get a comprehensive picture of the deeper issues. "I'm trying to get more educated and I don't want to hear from one person, I try to hear from all sides of the conflict," said Farmar. I'm not passing judgment, I'm not criticizing. Maybe I can help mediate." He added that the most intriguing facet of Israel, for him, is the country's patchwork of cultures. "There are a lot of different areas and a lot of stuff I've learned," he said. The diversity [strikes me], how many different people have claimed this place as home." As a point guard, Farmar directs his team on the court. He said that he succeeds at that position because of his natural tendency toward leadership, which he said was also on display in Kiryat Gat. "I'm a leader, and I think that's becoming more and more evident as my career is going along," he said. "I see myself as an ambassador of peace who tries to bring people together who wouldn't normally be together." Farmar will also hold a clinic for girls in Be'er Tuvia on Thursday. Gal Peleg, the director of the Peres Center's sports department, said that he appreciated Farmar's coming to Israel and admired his philanthropic spirit. "Its amazing that a Jewish basketball star has come to see this project," said Peleg. "It gives inspiration to these kids to see that someone who looks like me and you has come. It tells them, 'you can do it.'" Peleg hopes that upon Farmar's return to America, he will act as an advocate both for Israel and for Peace. "We hope that after this visit, Jordan Farmar will be a special envoy for us," said Peleg. "He should spread the messages of sports and peace."


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