Jews, Christians and Muslims gathered peacefully together to watch the Formula 1 race car exhibition speed past the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital city.
Around 100,000 enthusiastic Jews, Christians and Muslims attended Formula 1’s Peace Road Show, which appeared in the streets of Jerusalem last week. This race car show was the first of its kind ever to be held in Israel’s eternal capital city, featuring world class race cars and drivers. “Jerusalem joins other leading cities in the world which hold motorsports events attracting hundreds of thousands of spectators who contribute greatly to the city’s economy, tourism and world image,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat claimed. “The planned track is beautiful and attractive, combining the Old City walls and Jerusalem’s unique landscape with one of the most popular sports in the world.”
While the cost of hosting the Formula 1 Race amounted to $4.5 million, Barkat believes that it was money well spent. “This will make a huge contribution to branding and promoting peace,” he said. “We see this as an investment for the long-term and we have no doubt that we will get a good return on our investment. Motor sports’ is the second most popular sport in the world after soccer. You will see around the track Muslims, Christians and Jews who have come to watch the show. It brings people together with a message of peace and coexistence.”
According to Jerusalem resident Shaul Krozer, “All we have all the time is fighting, fighting and fighting, but everyone is here together and happy – Muslims, Christians and Orthodox Jews. There are no fights.” Elizabeth Awwad, an Arab from East Jerusalem, claimed that hundreds of Arabs from her neighborhood were excited about the Formula 1 Race and that a lot of the spectators were from East Jerusalem. She told the Jerusalem Post, “You see, I am Muslim and they are Jewish, and we are together. We need to be together like this all the time and have no more fighting – not for me but for [the] children. Enough war!”
Simcha Sheldon, an attendee at the Formula 1 race, reported, “I wanted to participate in an event that shows Jerusalem is a city of peace and positive life experiences. This clearly isn’t a picture of apartheid, is it?” His wife Sophie added, “Too many people don’t know that Israel is a positive, modern and open society where people of all backgrounds come together to have peaceful fun.”
International race car drivers were also excited to participate. One of the racers was a woman. “To drive such a car in such a town is really special,” Valentina Albanese, 39, told Yedioth Achronot. “It’s just fantastic to be here and to be part of it.” When asked why more women are not race car drivers, she replied, “I really don’t understand why. We have two legs, two arms and a head just like men.” Vitantonio Liuzzi, another racer, claimed that at first he was apprehensive about coming to Jerusalem, yet upon arrival he felt “the passion and the excitement here.” He viewed it positively.
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By Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United with Israel