SOCCER FOR PEACE brings Palestinians and Jews together

Thursday, 14 December 2006


              "Out beyond rightdoing and wrongdoing there is a field.  I'll meet you there."

     This starting place for relationship healing and building was prescribed centuries ago in the Middle East by Muslim Sufi teacher and mystic, Jelaluddin Rumi (1207-1273).
     Earlier, the Psalmists knew such a meeting place of adversaries was needed, sacred and blessed:

                "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies 
                thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over."     (23rd Psalm)
     Could Rumi have imagined it would be a soccer field, or the Psalmists a sports training table?


  Eat. Dialogue.  Soccer. Eat. Dialogue.  
     This is the nature of SOCCER FOR PEACE -- -- that brings together Palestinian and Jewish Israeli pre-teen youth ages 10-12.
     SOCCER FOR PEACE is leading Jewish and Arab youth toward excellence in sports and relationship building.
     It's innovator, Israeli-American Ori Winitzer ( ) realized "the binding power of the world's most popular game"
     Soccer is "a passion shared by all sides of the Middle Eastern conflict" and a place to "find a commonality between Jew and Arab."
     This global sport is "a context in which dialogue and mutual respect are possible" to help everyone recogize their equal humanity.

     Goal by goal, season by season the program has grown since the idea's birth after 9/11.
     To begin, it was a 5-day sleep-away camp program of soccer and dialogue.
     There were 50 youth in 2005, then 100 in July, 2006.
     "Now the Arab and Jewish parents are also becoming involved," says Executive Director, Deborah Clifford, is on fire with the idea.
     Clifford, a Christian, adds: "It is now becoming a 3-year, sustained year-around program for maximum personal and relationship transformation.
     "We're really excited and hoping this model can go to other regions of the world where it's needed."
     Deborah Clifford can be reached at or by phone at (917) 673-0021.

     TWINNED PEACE SPORT SCHOOLS are initiated by the Peres Center for Peace.

    In the past month, more than 1,000 girls and boys engaged in twelve of these joint Palestinian-Israeli activities
     These joint Palestinian-Israeli sporting and social encounters include regular sport training, auxiliary educational support and Peace Education activities.
     Highlights included the joint activity of youngsters from the Israeli town of Sapir, a conservative and religious community, together with children from the Palestinian community of Hebron, a city dubbed "the green city" due to the predominance of Hamas in the area.
      Under the guidance of the coaches, the Palestinian and Israeli youngsters interacted freely, taking part in dialogue activities and playing football in mixed Palestinian-Israeli teams providing fertile ground for the establishment of real friendships between these youth from diametrically opposed communities.
     Coach preparation and communication is important to this program.
     To begin, 50 soccer and basketball coaches from the Twinned Peace Sport Schools program gather for a coaches meeting to discuss the progress of the program.
     The Palestinian and Israeli coaches discuss new methods for coaching and Peace Education activities.
     They share successful techniques with each other through practical demonstrations.
     New evaluation mechanisms are being introduced, tol assess the impact of this peacebuilding program on youth.
     The Palestinian and Israeli coaches meetings include social activities that assist the free flow of communication.
     See a photo at:

     This is about Connection, Communication and Change.
     Connection, Communication and Change.
     As a 19-year-old University of California student recently told us:
     "If we're not communicating, we might as well live in the Stone Age."
     In this special Season of Lights, do initiate and enable these kinds of meetings and communication the best way you can.
     This is truly bringing Light to Earth.

                - L&L