Jun 05, 2016 11:45 PM GMT
http://espn.go.com/espnw/culture/article/15613771/the-israeli-palestinian-basketball-teams-breaking-all-barriersJERUSALEM -- Two teenage girls practice 3-pointers and layups at the end of a team workout session. They wear bright basketball shorts and T-shirts, and their hair is tied back in long, dark ponytails. From the bleachers, their coach, Rebecca Ross, watches them chatter away, switching seamlessly between Hebrew and Arabic.
Ofir (the girls' last names are withheld for privacy reasons), 15, with lighter brown hair and a round face, is a Jewish Israeli from a leafy south-central neighborhood. Malak, 16, a player with reedy legs and quick speed, is a Muslim Palestinian from Shuafat, a village adjacent to a refugee camp on the northeast side of Jerusalem.
"This is not normal," says Ross, a Jewish Israeli-American citizen, in English, sweeping her arm in the direction of the girls. "This doesn't happen. You can't find this anywhere else in the city."
..."I thought the Jews would hurt me, or they'd grow up to hurt me," says a 16-year-old Palestinian team member who'd prefer not to have her name used.
"I had heard that all the Arabs were terrorists, and everyone wants to kill us, and I thought we were supposed to hate each other," says a 15-year-old Israeli player.
They expected that getting along would require hours of conversation. But there is nothing like the rapport of teammates, and focusing on basketball was enough. They linger after practices, text often during the week and spend weekend retreats laughing and talking into the night about music and friends and school.
"A basketball team is based on trust and friendship," says Toot, an 18-year-old Israeli who is nearly the tallest and oldest on the U-18 team.
"Basketball gives you a chance to play together and to succeed. I was surprised to see that they felt exactly like me. ...