My name is Laith Subhi, I’m 19 years old, and I live in a neighborhood called Beit Safafa in Jerusalem. I’ve been in PeacePlayers since 2010 and I’m a part of the Leadership Development Program (LDP).
At first I joined PPI because I love to play basketball, but after I joined PPI, I found it focused on more than just playing basketball. Coming from this conflicted region, I grew up with the two sides, Arabs and Jews, trying to keep us segregated and not one unified team.
Lately the situation has gotten worse and I don’t always feel safe, especially in Jerusalem. It’s difficult for me to use the public transportation like buses or taxis because I am afraid of being recognized as an Arab and possibly being attacked. This is the same for me walking in the streets alone. Yet, I know the work we are doing with PeacePlayers is important because of the current situation.
I was amazed at the beginning when I saw how PPI could combine the two sides peacefully and without any racism. We were able to put our conflict on the side and just concentrate on the game and enjoy it.
Through the years in PPI I not only made new friends from the other side – Jews – but also I’ve learned that we should not judge anyone by his/her religion or national identity.
The connections and the relations were made stronger between PPI players because of the experiences and the activities we had together like local trips and basketball trainings. But the most amazing experience we had was last month when we traveled to USA for two weeks and we introduced PeacePlayers—Middle East to people. Meeting people who support this organization motivated me to keep on giving more and more to PPI.
One of the characters that inspired and motivated me the most was Susan Rice, the U.S. National Security Advisor, who welcomed us in the White House and found time in her very busy schedule to come and play basketball with us. She engaged in conversations with us and motivated us to continue our work. We were amazed were amazed by her attitude towards bringing peace and change to the Middle East.
In those two weeks we put the conflict on a side and enjoyed every moment together. We shared moments together that we will never forget and will be with us forever. I am hoping to go through this experience again in the future.
Maybe we have different languages, religions, and national identities but in the end we are all humans, and each day we learn how to respect each other although we have different points of view. For all these reasons I can’t imagine myself without PeacePlayers. I am hoping through our work that we will be the change in the future.