SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – A joint Australian rules football team brought together pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian legislators in Australia for the first time.
Tuesday night’s event at the Parliament House in Melbourne marked the first time that the Parliamentary Friends of Israel and Parliamentary Friends of Palestine have hosted a joint function, the Australian Jewish News reported.
The event was to say farewell to Australian rules footballers leaving for Israel to help train the so-called “Peace Team” ahead of the Australian Football League’s International Cup — a competition featuring 24 nations — in Melbourne in August.
“If kids can play footy together,” said David Southwick, a Jewish Liberal lawmaker in Melbourne, “then we should be able to do the same sort of thing in the Victorian Parliament.”
The “Peace Team,” a soccer squad composed of Israelis and Palestinians mostly in their later teens, made its debut appearance here in 2008. The team is co-sponsored by the Peres Center for Peace and Al-Quds Association for Democracy & Dialogue.
A documentary film about the project, titled “Tackling Peace,” won a coveted award last year in Milan, Italy.