Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Peace? Follow the Children

            A Jewish kid from Kiryat Shmona, a Muslim kid from Rajar, and a Christian kid from Nazareth are all playing hockey together. Words like respect, unity, peace, and acceptance spring to mind when we think about this situation. These kids, however, are thinking of different words: teammates, winning, fun. These kids do not see playing together as a political act. These kids do not discriminate and demand segregated teams. These kids do not utter racial slurs. Language is not a barrier to teamwork. Religion is not a barrier to teamwork. Customs are not a barrier to teamwork. These kids just want to play hockey. These kids are not opponents because some are Jewish and some are Arab; they are opponents because some are wearing blue, and some are wearing red. To these kids, everyone is just another kid. Just another potential friend. Just a human being.

            Interactions like the one described above frequently occur in Israel, the worlds most polarized and condemned country. This particular story takes place daily at the Canada Centre in Metula, the most northern city in Israel. Throughout Israel, Muslims, Jews, and Christians work together. Peace is prevalent

            Peace in the global sense of treaties and deweaponization is extraneous. True peace is not between governments. True peace is between two individuals who coexist without prejudiced hate. The need to categorize and critique each other is killing us all. Let us not fear difference, but embrace it. Let us not judge people by their skin colour or physique, but by their personalities. Let us not hate, but love. Peace is a matter of opening ones heart up to the possibility that variance is valuable. Imagine if everyone was the same. What a boring world it would be.

            In Canada and the United States, Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) is currently in full swing, running from March 4-8. This week is one filled with lies and senseless hatred. Israel may not be perfect, but it is far from an Apartheid state. It is a country where people who differ from each other unite and build something special. It is a country where Jews, Christians and Arabs cheer each other on during hockey games. Yes, there is racism in Israel. There is bigotry is Israel. There are certainly problems in Israel. But tell me a country where there aren’t these things. Students on campuses across North America are tragically unleashing anti-Semitism and stupidity. Our own democratic rules are counter-acting each other; freedom of speech is allowing animosity to be spread. Freedom of speech is allowing people to act on prejudices. The IAW in itself is counterproductive; all it shows is that the Jews need Israel as a Jewish homeland. North America may feel safe for Jews today, but no one knows about tomorrow.

            The innocence of kids should teach us all a lesson; look past a person’s exterior. Search into their souls. Judge a person not by their background, but by their dreams for the future. On this year’s IAW, let us make peace between people. Because that’s all we truly are. People.

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