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Omri Casspi wants peace in the Middle East, using basketball to bring it

Image (1) Casspi_dunk-thumb-250x375-19594.jpg for post 4010

In Washington D.C. a bunch of people in expensive suits are sitting around a table talking about a piece of paper that it is hoped will bring some stability and peace to the Middle East.

Omri Casspi is on the ground, in Israel, talking to youth from his nation and Palestine, playing basketball with them, as reported in a story in the Sacramento Bee. Casspi was doing work on the ground with the future leaders, and potentially the future fighters.

Sounding at times like a diplomat and on other occasions like a coach, the Kings’ second-year forward spoke about unity and tolerance. He stressed the cultural, ethnic and political diversity of the Kings. He left the community center, he said, encouraged and better educated.

“It was really enlightening to see kids from behind the borders, playing basketball with Israeli kids,” Casspi said on his cell phone from his native Israel. “When you see something like this, you realize that it’s true, that basketball can connect people from so many countries.”

This is the real work -- getting children from both sides to see the other side as human. That the violence does not just harm Israelis or Palestinians, but it destroys families and lives, that it causes real pain to real people. That’s only a first step, but it’s a step.

And one Casspi is helping people take.