US Policy on Judea and Samaria Is Hindering Peace
The United States Consulate in Jerusalem reported that two NBA players, along with trainers and administrators, recently traveled through Jerusalem and the West Bank. The trip was made possible by the Consulate General. The players were Kelenna Azubuike and Temeka Johnson, and they ran clinics for several hundred Palestinian players and coaches.
This trip was termed a “sports diplomacy” initiative to connect Americans and Palestinians through a shared love of sports. The Department of State maintains a #SportsUnited program, which sends American athletes around the world and also brings young international athletes to the United States. The trip is also part of the NBA’s global outreach efforts through the #NBACares program.
It would be safe to assume that a visit to a Jewish community was not on the schedule. I have highlighted the situation of disallowing any Jewish resident of Judea and Samaria from participating in such programs here, here and here.
This shunning of Jews is a major failure of the State Department. The problem isn’t officials on the ground — it’s the directives from Washington, which ignore or exclude Jewish residents in Judea and Samaria from all such programs.
Let me make it clear: I am all for sports being used to encourage all peoples to learn the value of rules, community and fairness. I think Arab children and coaches, outside of basketball, could apply those lessons to other fields of human endeavors.
I just don’t see why the Consulate excludes the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria from its various programs, as well as from its student grant and aid funds. Having Jews and Arabs learn about basketball and play together could be a tremendous step towards peace, or at least coexistence or mutual tolerance.
Peace cannot be forced. It needs be developed. Peace is actual life and relationships between peoples.