Australian football brings together pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian legislators

A joint Israeli-Palestinian Australian rules football team has brought pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian legislators together for the first time in Melbourne.

Tuesday night’s event at Parliament House in Melbourne was the first time 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 who have left 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,” co-sponsored by the Peres Center for Peace and Al-Quds Association for Democracy & Dialogue, made their debut appearance here in 2008. A documentary film about the project, titled “Tackling Peace”, won a coveted award in Milan, Italy, last year.