How Human Rights Advocates Can Use Sports to Solve Conflict Among Palestinians

Author: Abdel Kazal

Abdel is one of the founding members of the Palestine Solidarity Project. He is a social worker and is working for an institution taking care of human rights violation victims.

Conflict in Palestine is due to war between them and Israelis. The current violent struggle for power has seen several lives lost and buildings destroyed. The worst is the humanitarian crisis that comes as a side effect which now makes human rights organizations and non-profit making organizations come and help solve the humanitarian problem. Human rights advocates have a crucial role to play in bringing peace. The first line of duty is to save lives and to talk about violations of human rights. They do these through several activities which aim to bring peace among the warring communities.

Here are a few things they do to achieve peace

  • Peacebuilding seminars and conferences
  • Community sensitization
  • Using influential mediators
  • Talks between top-level government officials
  • Political intervention
  • Using the judicial system channels

All these have been tried and tested; although there is some level of improvement, there is still a lot to be done. At this stage, we need a change of tactic where stakeholders have to rethink their strategy and look for better ways to solve the conflict. Sports are one unique way of sorting out this issue since people come for one goal- enjoy sorts. AT that point, people forget their differences and enjoy the game.

Here are a few benefits of using sports in the peace process:

1. Promotes tolerance

You are glued towards the goal- a win. You tend to realize the potential of your opponent as they also appreciate your game level. That instills an act of tolerance despite the differences on the battlefield. The teams pose challenges; everyone goes back to the drawing board with better skills and workforce for the game. Where will you get the challenge when you are fighting?

The youths are at the forefront in some of the fights, yet, they are the ones with the energy to engage in heightened sports activities; once they are tamed to accommodate and tolerate each other, they can’t be easily used to escalate wars they have no idea of its beginning and the fight.

2. Draws people together under the umbrella of respect

Respect means you appreciate one’s weaknesses and flaws and can still do things together despite the differences. Palestine’s youth have grown in war since it started long ago- it only takes a break, then it recurs. On the sports field, you appreciate each one’s strengths and weaknesses in the game. Moreover, you also guard your strength to use it positively against your opponent to your advantage. At the golf field, for example, the sports equipment is crucial for a win. If you want the youth to be empowered through such sports, it is a must to make such sports equipment very accessible for them.

3. Creates an environment for dialogue

When the people stand firm, Palestinians can enjoy life like other peaceful countries. The power is on the people.

Let’s take golf for example which is very popular for Americans which can be taken advantage of to unite people. It will only take some sports equipment like a golf simulator for commercial and residential use, a venue, golfers, spectators, organizers, and a marketing team to promote the event. At the grounds, people share several experiences, and spectators come from all walks of life to enjoy. People go the extra mile; businesses find a market to advertise, SMEs have a target audience to showcase their products. That’s the power of sports, it’s a unifying activity where culture, tribe, and political affiliation isn’t an issue but a win or a loss is an ultimate goal.

4. Promotes diversity and peaceful coexistence

Palestinians have different tribes and cultures that define their cultural heritage. If it’s something you will fail fighting is culture.

Sports overlook all that, and all focus is on the game. As simple as it sounds, that’s what changes people’s perception to an extent everyone relinquishes their hardstands to focus on the issue at hand.

Human rights understand this too well and use it to unite Palestinian. They advocate for peaceful coexistence and dialogue rather than the gun.

5. Instills a sense of leadership

You don’t understand one’s power unless you give them a chance to exercise the same. Sports come with many leadership roles like captains, team leaders, technical bench, among others. That’s when you identify talents and leadership potentials and support them in their strengths to become better, leading to the development of Palestine.

With other above benefits, these people, when given a chance to rule or represent their regions at the judiciary or executive or parliamentary arm of government, never will they advocate for war, and you will try everything within your power to go for peace.

6. Promotes equity in all spheres

Palestine war is a result of Muslims wanting to dominate the country while Christians, on the other hand, feel they are the dominant group.

No one wants to relinquish the power. Although the political influence from western countries also plays a role in the war, sports promote equity.

You appreciate your teammates despite their cultural and religious background, tribe, and community. Once this is instilled in their minds, people can compromise for the sake of peace.

Sports is just one of the ways you can promote peace in Palestine. However, other interventions are also essential, and one of the effective ones is to identify the cause of war and handle it from that angle.

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