The main goal of PeacePlayers International is to build bridges, develop leaders, and change perceptions through sport. Here in the Middle East this is quite a task, especially at a period in time of such high conflict and constant war in the region. Despite all of this, PPI participants, both Israeli and Palestinian, continue to display kindness and sportsmanship towards each other on a daily basis. Although it doesn’t always happen overnight, unlikely friendships have formed from groups of kids that never would have gotten the chance to meet each other if it weren’t for their basketball teams and PeacePlayers.
This is most certainly the case with PPI’s own, the Jerusalem All-Stars. This talented girls team is made up of both Israeli and Palestinian players. They defied all odds and have come together to form not only an extremely successfully team, but more importantly a team of cohesiveness and true friendship. Just last week all the girls united to celebrate the season with an end of the year dinner and slumber party. The entire team got together for food, movies, games, and of course a sleepover with lots of girl talk!
The All-Stars coach, Osnat, was equally ecstatic about how the season turned out and especially thrilled about how much fun the girls had together at the party. She commented, “It was so exciting to see the girls together laughing and joking. They had a rare opportunity to come together because of PeacePlayers that they otherwise would never have. Each girl told me what an amazing year they had and how connected they felt to their teammates.”
This is a true success story for PPI-Middle East. Young Israelis and Palestinians have developed lifelong, improbable friendships from playing basketball and getting a chance to see people as people.
Thank you to the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Jewish Youth Philanthropy Initiative (JYPI) for helping to make the Jerusalem All-Stars a reality.