Sports

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Mark J. Terrill/AP
Jordan Farmar, Los Angeles Lakers

NBA’s Farmar Shooting for Peace in the Middle East

July 21, 2008 02:43 PM
by Josh Katz
Jewish basketball player Jordan Farmar is one of many athletes and organizers worldwide using sports to help foreign nations overcome religious and ethnic rifts.

30-Second Summary

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Farmar, a guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, will lead basketball camps in Israel August 4–11 for Israeli and Palestinian children. The camps are being run in association with the Peres Peace Center, created by Israeli President Shimon Peres to promote peace in the Middle East through “social programs, cooperation and interaction between Israelis and Palestinians,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Farmar said, “If you can have a good time with someone you’re supposed to be enemies with, and you guys can work together, things can be better for your future.”

It’s not the first time sports will be used to bridge cultural divides.

Football for Peace
, created in 2001, creates soccer teams of Jewish and Arab Israeli children in the hopes that the healing power of sports will help the children grow up to better understand one another. Columnist Kevin Mitchell of The Guardian described the children at a Football for Peace event: “consumed by the joy of their football, they left behind the prejudices that often go with religion.”

The organization PeacePlayers also utilizes basketball to mend conflicts. In Northern Ireland, two athletes, Protestant Trevor Ringland and Catholic Dave Cullen, have spearheaded PeacePlayers’ efforts to build friendships between Catholics and Protestants through basketball.

Sports’ unifying power is also evident in the war-torn Ivory Coast. Soccer player Didier Drogba has become a symbol in his country of a “new, post-civil war Ivory Coast,” according to U.K. paper The Daily Telegraph.

And famously, China invited American ping-pong players to a friendly match in 1971. The event, known as “ping-pong diplomacy,” helped improve relations between the nations and led to President Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China.

Headline Link: ‘Lakers’ Jordan Farmar to Go on Peace Mission to Middle East’

Related Topic: Sports as a worldwide tool for peace

Opinion & Analysis: The power of youth

Reference: Peres Center for Peace, PeacePlayers International, Football for Peace

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