Settling Palestinian question in ’90-minute war’

The saddest thing is that I never had direct personal contact with Palestinians. I grew up in an atmosphere of fear and separation. As a child, I knew that there are Palestinians, but no one bothered to tell me that this country belongs to them no less than to me. I learned those things on my own. It is embarrassing and sad to admit but most Israelis hear Arabic only when they wander the streets of London or Paris. The Arabic of the Palestinians, those who live 10 minutes away from home, they simply do not hear.

The book’s refusal to offer a solution does not mean Meirson does not see one.

The tragedy of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle is that the solutions are on the table for many years, and the two sides do not have the courage to fulfill them. As a Jew and an Israeli I don’t think I have the right to criticize the mistakes by the Palestinian side, and there were many. My purpose is to influence the change of awareness on my side, to talk with acquaintances, with the clerk in my neighborhood grocery store, to convince colleagues that there is a different way. I am not superman and have no illusions about saving the region with my two hands. In the current conditions, manifested in unprecedented despair and lack of trust, my goal is quite modest: to create the conditions in the Israeli society that will enable it in the near future to gather the courage necessary to settle the conflict in peaceful ways. In other words, my generation will not bring peace, but it must preserve it as a possibility, and that is a lot considering the current circumstances.

I asked whether he views soccer as a source of enmity or as a path toward reconciliation.

Two opposing elements function simultaneously—one separating and the second uniting. When a mass meeting between two competing societies occurs, the differences are sharpened. This applies to class differences (Egypt’s Zamalek and Al-Ahly) religious-political (Glasgow’s Celtic and Rangers) or national (Real Madrid and Barcelona). On the other hand, in a face-to-face encounter, soccer “behaves” differently and acts as a unifying element. The “we and you” is transformed into “you and I,” and that is the entire difference, exactly as happened between German and British soldiers in World War I.

Meirson’s book is currently being considered for American publication.

About the author

Alon Raab teaches religious studies at the University of California, Davis, and is coeditor, with John Turnbull and Thom Satterlee, of The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008).

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