Article: Peace in the Middle East through surfing
But of course it doesn't do that much immediately. Which is unfortunate but not surprising. It brings to mind a few things; how much someone can do and how little it can matter. How a common activity brings people who hate eachother together and builds unity. And how the zen state you acquire when you're concentrating fully on your body and not on anything else -- a state that is easiest to acquire through athleticism in my opinion -- can wash away anger and hatred and frustration. But not for very long.
Also, the fact that now that Hamas is a governmental organization, the rest of the world has to start treating it as such or cease helping the people of Gaza. It's sort of like the Cuba problem (although arguably much more severe). The United States' boycott against Cuba was meant to destabilize Castro, but instead it simply hurt the Cuban economy and through that the people. It didn't shorten Castro's reign at all - it is very likely that he will officially be president until he dies of natural causes, although his duties will be (and are) carried out by his healthier brother Raul. I don't know how accurate the parallel between Hamas and Castro's communism is, I'll have to think about that some more.
It would be interesting to ask that surfer again and see how much he likes Hamas now. I don't think that he has much reason to change his mind, though. I also think that one critical step in acheiving peace in the middle east is for Isreal and the West to convince Palestinians that they should not feel threatened. I think that in large groups people act with gut instinct, in a sort of animal response, rather than with logical, calm reasoning. And hence, since Palestine as a state is probably threatened, Palestinians feel threatened and violence ensues - just like a bee will sting if it is scared, or a dog (no matter how well domesticated) bite.
And so maybe things like this - uniting specific people with specific other people through common interests, charity, and friendship - is the most that anyone can do to help the situation. Perhaps in some ways that has more of an effect than any official state action, because it gets people to look eachother in the face and say "Well, I hate their leader, but I don't hate that person." And in my mind it isn't far from "I don't hate that person" to "I don't hate that kind of person" and from there to "If I take this action against that institution, it will hurt that kind of person, and I don't want to do that."
And once you're there you can start talking about peace.