The Israel Centre and Partnership2Gether, in conjunction with The Peres Peace Centre, brought a delegation to South Africa in October.
Partnership2Gether aims to connect Israelis and those in the Diaspora ‘on a person to person’ basis; and The Peres Peace Centre encourages cooperation and interaction between Jews and Muslims and Israelis and Palestinians. These ims were more than exceeded during the visit to South Africa.
The delegation consisted of eight teenage girls — four Jewish and four Muslim who live in neighbouring villages in the Partnership2Gether Beit Shemesh-Mateh Yehuda region, but who might never have met nor become friends without the Peres Peace Centre projects. The girls play soccer at The Peres Peace Centre and through this interaction they have built bonds and friendships across otherwise significant divides.
This trip to South Africa was a chance for the girls, in the company of representatives from Partnership2Gether and The Peres Peace Centre, to meet other young women in South Africa and enjoy travelling together as young Israelis, without being burdened by their backgrounds.
The delegation presented at the South African Zionist Federation Cape Council Youth Council Yom Rabin ceremony, with The Peres Peace Centre representative and a Muslim and Jewish girl speaking about peace and embodying Yitzhak Rabin’s dream of peaceful coexistence. The first Rabin Memorial Peace Tournament was kindly sponsored by Fives Futbal and was held at their Century City venue, where the Coexistence team played against teams from Herzlia Middle School, St. Cyprian’s School and the ‘African Passions’ team from Langa. The day was immensely exciting for all the girls and gave them a chance to interact with others from diverse backgrounds.
The team from St. Cyprian’s beat the team from Langa in the final, with Emelia Aggouras of St. Cyprian’s being named the best player and Besan Gaber of the Coexistence team named best goalkeeper. However competition was the econdary aim of the tournament, with interaction being the priority. Team members from different religious and ethnic backgrounds danced together to diverse music and enjoyed a delicious braai, with energy drinks provided by 32 GI. This showed all the girls that in the end they are all just young women who fundamentally care about the same things. The delegation also visited classes at Herzlia Middle School where they interacted with local pupils, and showed the Herzlia pupils how Muslims and Jews can be friends.
During their time here the delegation also toured Cape Town. Sharing these wonderful experiences together further enhanced friendships.
The entire Coexistence Delegation was privileged to be taken on a personalised tour of Parliament by Steve Swart of the African Christian Democratic Party. His personal explanations of South African history were both interesting and eeply moving and inspiring.
Ultimately one of the Jewish girls summed up the aims of the Partnership2Gether Coexistence Soccer Delegation and The Peres Peace Centre