Sports and cultural events can better ties
Team Israel Startup-Nation is taking the 'sporting' route to success
In a one-on-one interview with Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief of The Jerusalem Post, at the virtual UAE-Israel Business Summit 2021, Sylvan Adams, co-owner of the Team Israel Startup-Nation cycling team and promoter of people-to-people peace diplomacy, explained to Katz that he uses sporting and cultural events focusing on Israel to show the true face of Israel to the public at large.
"Sports has the largest television audience of any activity on Earth," said Adams. "In 2018, when we brought the first three Stages of the Giro d'Italia - the second most prestigious bicycle race in the world after the Tour de France - to Israel, the entire country was seen by a billion viewers around the world. It is a great tool to show our best face around the world."
Adams, who was one of the few Israelis invited to the signing of the Abraham Accords in Washington in mid-September, brought his Team Israel Startup-Nation cycling team to the Emirates in 2020, several months before the agreements were signed.
"We were so well-received in the streets of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The fans were lining up to get autographs and souvenir water bottles from our riders, and it was beautiful to see the Emiratis embrace us, cheering for us, as we rode openly in the streets of Dubai." Adams suggested that the people-to-people contacts that he and his cycling team made helped set the stage for the warm peace that has followed.
Adams is planning on returning to Dubai in February with his Team Israel Startup-Nation cycling team to participate in the UAE Tour cycling race, along with world-famous cyclist Chris Froome, the newest member of the team. He expressed his hope of someday expanding the UAE Tour cycling race beyond the Emirates, to Israel and Bahrain as well, fellow signatories to the Abraham Accords.
Beyond the world of sports and cycling, Adams is the lead donor in the creation of a new, state-of-the-art emergency ward at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv; the construction of the Sylvan Adams children's hospital at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon; and the 'Save a Child's Heart' programme, which offers life-saving heart surgery to Israeli and Palestinian children at Wolfson Hospital, as well as mobile teams operating on children in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. Adams explained that sports and supporting advances in medicine are two sides of the same coin - showing the best face of Israel.
"We take we take in children from all over the world," Adams told Katz. "We send our heart specialists to Third World countries, but we also bring in Palestinian kids from Gaza and the West Bank. When they come to Wolfson Hospital, they are greeted in Arabic by Arabic-speaking professionals." Adams said that the children experience the warmth and "big heart of Israel", and see first-hand the Jewish imperative of 'Tikkun Olam,' improving the world.
"I am very proud to be part of this beautiful project," he concluded, and added that he hopes to be able to expand the programme to Bahrain, the UAE, and maybe Sudan and Morocco as well.
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