Israeli-Palestinian "Peres Peace Team" for IC 2008?
Wednesday, November 07 2007 @ 04:27 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Aaron Richard
A concept that has been mentioned a few times in planning for next year's International Cup is a combined Israel-Palestine team, supported by the Peres Centre for Peace. The Australian Jewish News yesterday reported that plans for the team were well underway, with a dinner between key AFL and Jewish figures in Melbourne next month to gauge interest in the community to support the project, and corporate support via the Melbourne-based Pratt Foundation.
The team would be made up of players recruited and trained in Israel and Palestine over the next 10 months, then brought out as a squad for the cup.
Plan for joint Israeli-Palestinian footy team
by ASHLEY BROWNE
ISRAELIS and Palestinians could play alongside each other in a team representing their region in an international Australian rules’ football tournament in Melbourne next year.
The AFL will be staging its third International Cup in August as part of celebrations to mark the sport’s 150th birthday, with teams from 15 countries already expressing interest in taking part.
The Israeli/Palestinian team would be known as the Peres Peace Team, because of backing it would receive from the Peres Centre for Peace. The non-profit, non-political organisation is named after the current Israeli president who promotes peace in the Middle East through business, science, culture and sport.
One of the major patrons of the centre is the Melbourne-based Pratt Foundation.
A high-level dinner next month involving key Jewish and AFL identities in Melbourne will determine whether there is enough support for the initiative in the Jewish and wider communities and determine whether the significant amount of money needed to recruit and train players in Israel and bring them to Australia for the tournament could be raised.
Heading up this initiative is the Centre’s executive director, Tanya Oziel, who said sport provides an excellent opportunity to “encourage solidarity, mutual understanding, respect and interaction”.
“From our own communal perspective, this is very exciting for us, because it will bring a strong message of Palestinian-Israeli teamwork to the wider Australian community through an association with this high-profile event. It demonstrates that Palestinian-Israeli cooperation is not only desirable but attainable, and will enable all of us to witness cooperation and teamwork in contrast to the images that are portrayed in the media,” she said.
The idea for the team was hatched during a visit to the Peres Centre earlier this year by Melbourne businessman James Demetriou, the brother of AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou. He was in Israel as part of an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce trade mission.