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Interview with Mifalot in times of conflict

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Interview with Mifalot in times of conflict

Keren Lavi from Mifalot, an S&D organisation based in Israel, shared with sportanddev more on the subject of peace-building during times of conflict as they hold on tightly to the peaceful relations they have built amongst youth from both sides.

sportanddev: To what extent do you think sport has a role to play in finding peace/resolving this conflict?

Keren:

Our peace programmes are based on the notion that coexistence starts by uniting populations through a common ground (i.e. football), which creates mutual respect and understanding. We work with Israel’s diverse society (including Jewish-Israelis, Arab-Israelis, Bedouins, Druze, Christians, refugees, new immigrants, etc.), Palestinians, Jordanians and more. In this case, the role of Mifalot is to create a platform for youngsters to meet.

We create the first interaction for those who may have felt they were enemies. Once playing, it doesn't matter who you are and where you come from and definitely doesn't matter what your religion is and what you believe in. What does matter are the values the games encourage- teamwork, responsibility, leadership, mutual respect and more. Based on our M&E reports there is evidence that the programmes are effective in promoting positive attitude change.

sportanddev: What has the 'Know your Neighbour' programme achieved in the region? What changes have you witnessed amongst the participating youth?

Keren: 'Know your Neighbour' brings children and youth, Jewish and non- Jewish, from Israel, the Palestinians Authorities and Jordan together to get to know one another. This programme promotes the view of the region's society as multi-cultural and diverse, and encourages fraternity, tolerance, good neighbourship, peace and coexistence.

Research by Michael J. Leitner shows that a great deal of hatred and lack of trust exists among Palestinians, Jordanians and Israelis. BUT test results show that by simply playing soccer together, feelings of hatred can be greatly reduced and feelings of trust can be enhanced. Some participants indicated they were a bit suspicious before meeting for the first time, but after playing together they realised there is nothing to fear. "They are just like us" said Omer Dadon, 17 from Holon, Israel, who has participated for the past two years.

sportanddev: Have the recent escalations affected the implementation of your programmes? Can sport play a role during- as well as post-conflict?

Keren: Yes, Mistrust, hate and incitement are currently pushing aside faith, love and togetherness between the two sides. At this time, we are being put to the test of humanity, friendship and the bridges we have built in the past. Just when many are closing their doors and avoiding dialogue and understanding, we wish to remain true to who we are.

Summer is a break for Mifalot's activities but, due to the escalation, Mifalot organised a peace tournament in Afula, where both Arabs and Jews from Mifalot programmes participated. The tournament included a big warm-up, interactive games and a Ramadan feast. The tournament proved that despite everything going on, there is still common ground between the various sectors and football proved to be one of them! Despite the current situation, the tournament was cheerful, fun and sporty.

The goal of Mifalot's social activists is to create a tolerant and supportive society through sport and we will continue working to achieve this vision as long as we can!

sportanddev joins Mifalot in the hope for better days to come!

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Article type

News

Author

Rachel May

Published

Sunday, August 10, 2014 - 23:00