Celtics rookie Marcus Smart has spent the last few days helping to bridge the gap between teens on opposite ends of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Smart, along with ex-Celtic Brian Scalabrine and Philadelphia 76ers rookies Joel Embiid and Jerami Grant, were special guests at the Seeds of Peace camp in Otisfield, Maine. The goal of the camp is to bring together kids from conflict zones through open dialogue and games. Smart hosted a basketball clinic yesterday, as rocket fire resumed in Gaza following a cease fire. But he said you’d never know it by looking at the kids in Maine.
“When those kids are laughing and playing on the basketball court, they’re not thinking about war. They’re thinking about having fun,” Smart said. “It’s just a good feeling to see those kids smile.”
Of the 182 campers, more than half are Israeli and Palestinian. The camp encourages teens to hash out their issues with each other, but Smart said he’s not there to talk politics.
“Seeing it from the outside and seeing it from the inside is two different point of views,” he said. “You definitely have to be careful about the subjects that come up.”
He said he felt lucky to have any influence over the kids and that seeing the campers interact gives him hope for a resolution to the Middle Eastern conflict, “because these are future leaders of their respective countries and if they’re here and they’re getting along with people from other countries, it’s just a glimpse of the future—what’s to come and what it could possibly be.”