On a warm weekend in August, Israelis and Palestinians were once again found on opposing sides of a table – but this time, it was with the absence of violence or disagreement.

Men, women, and children from both sides of a divided Jerusalem gathered in the ottoman-era Train Station Restaurant to engage in the age old pastime of backgammon.

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“I can’t see any borders here,” Jewish citizen Linda Menhuin Abdel Aziz told CBC. “Everyone is together and I just love it”

The event was organized by peace group Kulna Yerushalayim, which means “We are all Jerusalem.” For many, this was a rare moment that would only take place a few times in a lifespan. Political and religious differences were set aside in order to facilitate an atmospheric mutual respect.

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Inside the building, the dimly lit halls emitted an inviting energy devoid of political confrontation and vibrant colors of attendee’s wares and decorations. Diners shared alcohol, watermelon, and cigarettes while the walls reverberated with the competing sounds of children’s laughter and arabic music – a stage had been set for a night the Palestinians and Israelis would not forget.

As the games took place, converted Jewish men revisited the arabic diction they once spoke, and Muslims adapted to the Israeli game rules, both acting in an effort to preserve the peace necessary for participation in this culturally shared game.

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Mahmud al-Rifai, a Palestinian organizer of the event told the Times of Israel, “The situation is not what the politicians try to sell to us – look at how much Jerusalem residents want something like this.”

Though the event only lasted a period of 4 days, it was a functioning model for the potential unification that could be worked towards in the future.

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  1. I don’t know the rules of this game but I am all for peace and playing games together across the world amongst all peoples. Backgammon looks like a good game with which to spread a message of peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.

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