Ultimate Peace has been fortunate to facilitate and witness a variety of satisfying outcomes over the past few years. A few which stand out as significant affirmations of our work are listed below:
[pullquote_r]”I learned to play Ultimate, but the real feat is that the concept of Arab-Jewish friendship is as natural to me as any friendship.” – Raz[/pullquote_r]
Recognition – The Israeli Ministry of Culture and Sport made Ultimate an officially recognized sport in 2010 after observing our activities in 2009, then became an official partner with UP in 2011. In the fall of 2011, they recognized UP as a model program, and chose to send 100 international dignitaries attending a conference entitled “Sport as a Mediator for Cultures” to observe our UP tournament in the Arab town of Tamra. 7 European Ministers of Sport and numerous academics and policy makers from around the globe spent several powerful hours on the UP playing field with our youth and leaders. This led to a presentation to the United Peace and Sports Committee Nations in the fall of 2012, and broad interest was expressed on behalf of the committee to study the UP program.
Deep Cross-cultural Friendships – Throughout the year, hundreds of comments, pictures, and group messages are posted on our Facebook pages by youth from all of our communities. They talk to one another and share stories from their lives, joke with each another, plan get-togethers – just like any other teenage group. When conflict broke out in the fall of 2103, we observed many Israeli and Palestinian youth reaching out to one another and checking for one another’s safety.
In 2011, an Arab girl invited a Jewish girl to her home after they had become good friends and roommates at camp. The father of the Jewish girl drove several hours to the Arab girl’s village, and the girls spent the day together. There would have been no reason otherwise for this Jewish family to enter this Arab community – they would normally just drive by. Yet the friendship forged at camp brought not only the girls together but their families as well. Since then, visits between Jews and Arabs have become part of the UP culture as multiple cross-cultural friendships have deepened and blossomed.
[pullquote]”Before Ultimate Peace I was taught we were so different. Now my Israeli teammates are my brothers.” – Ali, Team Israel[/pullquote]
Teaming Up: International Competition – In the summer of 2012, the Israeli National Youth Ultimate Team traveled to Dublin, Ireland for the World and European Youth Ultimate Championships. For the first time ever, Arabs who live in Israel made the boys and girls teams and joined the traveling team. Every one of the Arab players started playing in Ultimate Peace and is an active UP participant. A staggering 50% of the girls selected for the team were Arab girls from around Israel. 25% of the boys were Arab. These numbers are unprecedented for any Israeli national sports team. The world watched in awe as the two cultures teamed up proudly – the girl’s team was rated highly by their peers for sportsmanship and fair play, and the boys brought home a bronze medal!
Youth Leadership Tour – In the spring of 2013, 15 CITs embarked on the first USA Friendship Tour. In addition to raising awareness by speaking in school and communities around the country, they also competed in the world’s largest youth Ultimate Tournament in Seattle (120 teams). This group made a powerful impression on the 2000 + players and their parents – Arabs, Jews and Palestinians playing as one united team. Coming in 12th place was a great accomplishment, though just the impact of their presence was moving and inspiring to many.
- Community Practice Sessions: Youth (male and female) from the same community come together for weekly practices throughout the school year.
- Quarterly “HAT” tournaments: Every 3 months all 14 communities travel to one of our communities to reunite and play together on randomly selected multi- cultural teams.
- Community League: League games are arranged and facilitated between communities. Games are followed up by ‘mixer’ games that combine members of different teams.
- Camp UP: Year-round activities culminate at camp – this summer two residential sessions will be held, each a week long. 250 youth will attend.
- Coaches-in-Training (CIT): The Coaches-in-Training program component engages a select group of 20 Middle Eastern youth, ages 15-17, in a year-round training that focuses on leadership, on and off the field.
- International Exchange: In 2012, UP will add two-way exchange as a new program component, and in April 2013, UP will send its first “Peace Team” on a week-long “USA Friendship Tour”.
- Twinning Program: This year we will launch our twinning program, with one Arab and one Jewish school engaging their broader student body and institution in UP activities.