They are young and old. Boys and girls. Men and women. Professional racers or just plain enthusiasts. But above all, Israelis and Palestinians.
The race, the first in East Jerusalem, was organized by 'Runners Without Borders', a NGO created in November 2014, with the aim of helping young women to develop self confidence and to unite diverse communities through sport. A female team was created first by the Israeli Jewish student Shoshana Ben-David. Later, a male team was formed, led by Israel Haas.
Co-founder of 'Runners without Borders'
"The scenario of this foundation was the critical situation of Jerusalem, because of the escalation of the conflict, between spring and summer of 2014. We decided to do something because we were both amateur runners and we both wanted to make a contribution.”
"On the track, they are all the same" , the organizers recall. And during the race, it is not necessary to speak the same language to understand each other.
“This is not my first time in this race, I have been participating for the last three years, running alongside Israeli and Palestinian people and it is great!”
"I joined the team because I believe in peace and I believe we, Palestinians and Israelis, must unite... and also because I want to run!"
Each of these runners has a story and a motivation: there are those who want to prove themselves, those who simply want to run, those who arrived wondering what might come out of the encounter between the two peoples and has instead found friends.
"I think it is important to establish a friendship between Arabs and Israelis, instead of encouraging more conflicts.”
"I have a few Palestinian friends ... but we are all friends here!"
Spk1 – 00.00.12
This year, we have 120 participants: not only kids, but also adults, from the Men or the Women Division. Various entities are also involved.
"My name is Magdi and I live here in Jerusalem. For us, supporting our friends is very important, as well as encouraging the 'Hand in Hand' community. This is why we are here, accompanied by all of our family members.”
"My name is Hali and ours is a mixed marriage. Our children go to a bilingual school, where they learn both Hebrew and Arabic as well as English. It is very important for us to be part of this community and give them our support. "
"This is the first time I participate in this marathon. This is good for me, and I am really glad I came. It boosts my health and improves society and culture ... and it is a step towards peace with the Jews. Inshalla [God willing] I hope to participate in a similar race again in the future.”