The Independent spoke briefly with Noor Daoud and Liraz Cohen, who were visibly eager, having just played a game and done a TV interview, to rejoin their fellow players and enjoy the rest of their night.
Daoud, 21, who is from the West Bank, said she recently completed her studies at Miami University; she has taken a year-long program in criminal justice and two years of fitness training. She is now working at a gym, in addition to playing soccer with an Israeli team. She played on the Palestinian national team, which took her to competitions in places like the United Arab Emirates, Germany and London, but had to change teams because she reached the de facto age-limit of the Palestinian team, which focuses on younger players.
Cohen, 22, is one of the Israelis on the VISF Palestine/Israel team. She said she had just finished a six-month vacation in the United States. She currently lives in Eilat, where she is a bartender, as well as a soccer player.
About the potential impact of VISF, Daoud said, “I think it will really, really help, because we’ve never gone out as both teams [together] like this, we never tried it, it’s our first time, and I’m really enjoying it because it’s been a long time [that] I wished this moment would happen. We’re here now and I’m really happy because we can show the world and everybody here that Israelis and Palestinians can mix and we can become one team. I hope one day we will have huge team in Israel and it will be mixed, Palestinians and Israelis.”
While Daoud was speaking, Cohen put her arm around Daoud’s shoulder in a show of camaraderie. “It’s good for peace, for the future,” said Cohen about VISF. “I think all people are the same and we need peace. That’s it,” she concluded.
This is not sitting well with Hamas.
The Hamas-oriented Felesteen and Palestine Times websites are upset over photos that came out of Canada at the festival:
They are especially upset at how this joint team represents "normalization" with the "Zionist entity" and they note the names of the Arab players and where they are from, in what may be a veiled threat against them.
One comment at the Felesteen site emphasized that "they do not represent the Palestinian people."