For many years, joint sports activities between Israeli and Palestinian youth have proven successful in peacebuilding efforts. Sports are beloved by kids of different backgrounds and give youth a way to bond over their shared passion. We are excited to introduce our newest peacebuilding organization, SquashBond, which embodies this mission by bringing Jewish-Israeli and Arab-Israeli youth together to learn the game of squash. This program builds on shared play by offering shared learning. The organization’s tagline “squash and beyond” refers to learning to play squash while also learning a new language and receiving academic mentorship.
This initiative, which launched in 2013, has expanded to the cities of Haifa and Ra’anana. The program aims to show how sports can promote tolerance, respect and understanding between peoples. Although participants hail from the same region, they are socially and culturally unaware of one another. Jewish and Arab children usually live in different towns, and don’t tend to interact. The game of squash offers a neutral common ground to break down barriers.
Founder Nitzan Moree recounted an incident that spoke to the impact of the program. After a stabbing incident in Ra’anana the mother of a Jewish player checked to see if practice was still happening. It was, and she said she would talk to her daughter to see if she felt comfortable going. Her daughter didn’t hesitate about participating. Moree says “Kids that go through the program change the way they see the reality around them in Israel. It gives them an opportunity influence their surroundings as they grow up.”
SquashBond is playing a role in alleviating tensions between Jews and Arabs. Participants are becoming talented squash players, but more importantly, role models in their communities. SquashBond has proven that with more personal interactions, Jews and Arabs can cooperate, succeed, and learn from one another. We are eager to connect Boston’s robust squash community with the Israeli and Palestinian players from SquashBond soon!