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A New Spin on World Peace: In a divided Israel, teens connect through Ultimate Frisbee

Imagine living in a completely segregated society where decades of discord have created gulfs between ethnicities, religions, and cultures.“Even within Israel, Jews and Arabs never interact,” explains David Barkan. “They share the same citizenship. They could enter each other’s villages—but they don’t. They have never met another of the other kind. They are like aliens to each other.”Now imagine a powerful tool that helps sow seeds of peace and understanding. A round, spinning . . . Frisbee? Barkan is one of the founders and the CEO of Ultimate Peace. The nonprofit uses the team sport of Ultimate Frisbee, also called simply “Ultimate,” to build respect and rapport among Arab, Jewish, and Palestinian teens in communities in Israel and the West Bank.“Ultimate is the tool we use; it’s the context of building the bridges for foundations of trust,” says Barkan, who played Ultimate Frisbee internationally for years and was inducted into the sport’s hall of fame in 2010.Why Ultimate? The seven-on-seven game has no quarterbacks or star players. Everyone catches and everyone throws.“There’s a lot of eye contact …

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Kathryn Drury Wagner

Kathryn Drury Wagner is based in Savannah. She’s been a contributor to the magazine for many years, and she loves sharing ways to build a healthy, mindful, and sustainable lifestyle.

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