Despite the political stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians, research conducted by an American professor reveals that there is still hope for reconciliation and coexistence between the two peoples...via soccer.
Prior to the study, which had the children from both sides play a number of soccer games against one another, 52 percent of the Palestinian participants said they hated all Israelis. Following the study, a full 100 percent of the Palestinians said they would be happy to have Israeli friends.
The study was conducted by Prof. Michael Leitner of the University of California in cooperation with Israeli businessmen who annually host a series of sports activities aimed at bringing together Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian youth.
Leitner found that the sports workshops were a perfect way to enable the Jewish and Arab youth to mingle and get to know one another, something that the current conflict has robbed them of. Lack of the familiarity with the other side had led both to view the other with hostility, according to the study.
The research will be presented next week as part of a "Education and Social Workshops" conference at the Mediatheque in Holon. More than 200,000 Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian youth have participated in the sports activities.