Peace through Superior Football

When it comes to wishing for peace in the Middle East – virtually a New Year’s tradition ­– one needs to be careful. So many hopes have vanished in the bitter failure of so many negotiations. But we have a wish for the Middle East – one that, while perhaps not bringing peace, can create one of peace’s preconditions: goodwill. Israel and Palestine should jointly bid for, and be awarded, the Football World Cup in 2018.

The Israel-Palestine conflict has lasted far too long. The Annapolis peace conference ended a seven-year freeze on negotiations, with President George W. Bush asking the conflict’s main protagonists to reach an agreement by the end of 2008.

Nothing prevents us from hoping that a fair and just peace can be achieved by then. There is no curse that keeps Israelis and Palestinians from living side by side peacefully. Where there is a will, there is a way.

But nurturing the will to achieve long-lasting peace depends on more than political negotiations. Israelis and Palestinians need an underlying source of solidarity if they are ever to settle their large disagreements and prevent their small ones from erupting into violence.