British MPs round the wicket in Israel

UK lawmakers are in town to play cricket with Israeli counterparts — and learn about co-existence, too.

British MPs are in town to bat for tolerance and co-existence in Israeli society. (Shutterstock.com)

British MPs are in town to bat for tolerance and co-existence in Israeli society. (Shutterstock.com)

Nine members of the Lords and Commons Cricket Club – who are also British members of parliament – are in Israel on a unique four-day tour that meshes friendly cricket matches with a political fact-finding mission.

The UK delegation will meet Israeli and Palestinian children on the pitch today in Beersheva and Hura, a Bedouin town in the Negev. Former professional cricket player and British team captain John Emburey came with the MPs to help lead workshops for the young players.

The Israel Cricket Association (ICA), which helped organize the visit, was awarded the Spirit of Cricket Award for their Cricket4Peace project at the International Cricket Council (ICC) Development Program Awards in 2011. Cricket4Peace is a cross-border tolerance-building project run by the ICA and the Peres Center for Peace.

British MP Nigel Adams, who visited Israel last year at the invitation of the Conservative Friends of Israel, came up with the idea for this special tour.

“We’ve just witnessed a fantastic summer of sport in our country, and I think it’s important for my colleagues to witness how sport in Israel can help break down barriers,” Adams told Haaretz last night after arriving in the country.

“We thought this was a great way to expose the MPs to Israel,” Stuart Polak, director of the Conservative Friends of Israel – a co-organizer of the tour told Haaretz.

The visiting lawmakers are also set to visit Sderot and get an up close view of the security situation there, tour Jerusalem’s Old City and meet with British ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould.

This Saturday just before they return home, the MPs will face off against Young Ashdod – the 2011 Israel Cricket League champions.

Cricket photo by Shutterstock.com.

About Viva Sarah Press

Viva Sarah Press is an associate editor and writer at ISRAEL21c. She has extensive experience in reporting/editing in the print, online and broadcast fields. She has jumped out of a plane, ducked rockets and been attacked by a baboon all in the name of a good story. Her work has been published by international media outlets including Israel Television, CNN, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post and Time Out.