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Jews, Palestinians, and the unbearable lightness of sports and politics

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Jews, Palestinians, and the unbearable lightness of sports and politics

Frank van Eekeren shares his impressions after the "Sport as a Mediator between Cultures" conference in Israel, 15-17 September 2011.

These days, Israel and Palestine are back in the spotlight. The Palestinians applied for full membership of the United Nations and are, as expected, going to be disappointed. The Jewish Israelis hold their breath, especially since the key pillars of the security of their land -peace with Egypt, the stability of Syria and the friendship withTurkey and Jordan- crumble. This week, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman sighed about the current situation: "I’ve never been more worried aboutIsrael’s future."

In this context, I visited the international conference "Sport as a Mediator Between Cultures" in Israel last week. Academics, politicians and practitioners debated about the significance of sport for peace in conflict areas. In his key note speech Professor Fred Coalter hit the right nail by citing philosopher Antonio Gramsci’s words: “There is the optimism of the will, and the pessimism of the intellect.”

There was certainly a lot of optimism at the conference. The United Nations special advisor on Sport for Development and Peace, Wilfried Lemke, kept it simple: “Sport creates togetherness, togetherness leads to dialogue, dialogue leads to mutual understanding and mutual understanding leads to peace.” If we follow his logic, world peace is a matter of more balls and pitches, especially when we use them in the context of ’the mother of all conflicts. “

Read the full article on Frank van Eekeren's blog.

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Article type

News

Author

Frank van Eekeren

Published

Monday, September 26, 2011 - 23:00

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