Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Building Bridges Through Basketball: Peace in Israel’s Younger Generation

Lee Satterfield is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cultural and Professional Exchanges in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

Just days before President Barack Obama set off for his historic trip to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, 16 Jewish and Arab-Israeli teens traveled to the United States to engage their American counterparts and highlight the strong relationship between the U.S. and Israeli people. Using the sport of basketball, these young people have focused their efforts on peace-building and cooperation -- two themes central to President Obama's visit.

Engaging young people is a strategic priority for the United States. After all, today's youth are tomorrow's leaders. And, sports are a vehicle in which we can engage young people from around the world on the court, in the classroom, and in their communities.

During this international exchange, these young Israelis -- whom I first met at the Peres Center for Peace during a recent trip to Israel -- engaged with their American counterparts in Columbus, Ohio and Washington, D.C. Teaming up with our private-sector partner World Learning, we were able to exchange ideas, hopes, and aspirations on ways in which our countries can work together in the future.

Seeing these young faces and watching them interact with America's youth -- on the basketball court and in the community -- sends a clear signal that together through greater understanding we can all seek peace and cooperation that builds a better world for all.

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