21st century gladiators

The Palestinian soccer (futbol) player held by Israel without charge or trial for three years returned home to Gaza today.  I wrote about Mahmoud Al-Sarsak in June here and here.  He lost nearly half his body weight following a 3 month hunger strike in protest of his detention.

Many pictures of his return from a celebratory Gaza today, available here.

Israel did the right thing in releasing him.  The authorities argued that Mahmoud is a member of the Islamic Jihad, which he denied.  Whether or not the allegation has merit, we will never know because the Israeli authorities said they didn’t have enough evidence to bring him to trial.   No one — in Israel, the US,  anywhere — should be denied his liberty on a mere hunch or suspicion.  But it happens ALL OF THE TIME to Palestinians in Israel.

The photos of Mahmoud Al-Sarsak returning home victoriously remind me of the ancient Roman gladiators.   With the odds stacked against them, these warriors fought in “games” to defend their honor and dignity.   The citizens of Rome took great pleasure in the “combat.”

Roman gladiator

Today, is there anyone taking pleasure in the sport of the Israeli Occupation?

It appears to be a sport, albeit a very cruel one.

Perhaps the rules of the game could be changed.  Could we set aside the lethal weapons, rockets, drones, and white phosphorous that have been used on Palestinian civilians, as well as the crude rockets launched by the militants from the Gaza Strip?  Instead, we could enlist soccer (futbol) players — both Palestinian and Israeli athletes.

Just imagine the festivities!   The match would have to be at a neutral location agreeable to both; the proceeds from ticket sales might fetch a pretty penny.  The profits would be shared equally, of course.

The only “weapon” would  be the soccer ball, of course.  No fighting to the death.  Just good, old-fashion scores.

Who would be the referees?  Hmmmm!   Israelis don’t trust the United Nations, and Palestinians don’t trust the United States.  Finding referees trusted by both might be challenging.

But assuming the games could proceed, and weren’t rained out or postponed for other reasons, we could see the beginning of a new tradition – 21st century gladiators fighting for the honor and dignity of their homeland.  I’m referring to both Palestinians and Israelis.

And the global citizens who watched, either in person or live-streamed to their computers, could cheer on their favorite team.

This proposal makes plenty of sense — at least to me, a mother and grandmother who abhors violence, death and destruction.  But I’m a pragmatist.  I realize we must do something about the excess testosterone in the world.

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Filed under Football - Soccer, Gaza, Hunger Strike, nonviolent resistance, Peaceful, People

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