Palestinian and Israeli riders in the Jordan Valley
Palestinian and Israeli motorcyclists in the Jordan Valley
Photo: Elior Levy
Palestinian and Israeli motorcyclists in the Jordan Valley

Palestinian, Israeli motorcyclists find harmony on their hogs

With no race track available in Palestinian Authority, Petza'el is a refuge for riders to enjoy their hobby with like-minded enthusiasts from the other side of the long-standing conflict, and while politics are not discussed the bikers are determined to heal the rifts in their own way

Elior Levy |
Published: 01.18.20 , 18:29
On a race track in the Jordan Valley earlier this month, a Palestinian team of motorcyclists joined their Israeli counterparts for a friendly contest.
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  • The gleaming bikes were parked under a canopy while riders were busy preparing a hot cup of Arabic coffee and waiting for the kickoff.
    "We are saving the hookah for later," one racer said, smiling.
    Palestinian and Israeli riders in the Jordan ValleyPalestinian and Israeli riders in the Jordan Valley
    Palestinian and Israeli motorcyclists in the Jordan Valley
    (Photo: Elior Levy)
    The Petza'el track serves as a refuge for Palestinian riders who have no available courses to enjoy their expensive hobby in the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank.
    "We used to ride in the streets but had too many accidents and some of our brethren were killed," says Mutassim, a resident of Hebron.
    "The authorities do not like us very much because of a preconceived notion that motorcyclists are rowdy people."
    Palestinian and Israeli riders in the Jordan ValleyPalestinian and Israeli riders in the Jordan Valley
    Palestinian and Israeli bikers in the Jordan Valley
    (Photo: Elior Levy)
    "We are like brothers here and we respect each other," says another rider. "We are here to enjoy ourselves and have no interest in politics."
    As Petza'el Mayor David Elhayani approached, a lively discussion of a planned extension to the track began.
    "Add a straight bit," suggested one rider, "so we can test our motorcycles' speed as well as their power."
    The Israeli organizers go out of their way to make the Palestinian team feel welcome.
    They say they have no pretensions about promoting regional peace but do want to pave the way for a "new Middle East" with their own small contribution.
    "Our religion is the motorcycle and its horsepower. Politics remain beyond the fence," says an Israeli organizer of the meet.

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