For Palestinians, Raising Arabian Horses Is ‘the Hobby of the Poor’
over 1 year ago
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"The two gleaming black horses, certified purebreds named Rawnaq and Furys, provided a glimpse of a Palestinian passion — some call it an obsession — for raising show horses, racehorses and more modest steeds in what might seem like impossible conditions. The horses are bred and to some extent trained in gritty East Jerusalem neighborhoods like Issawiya, Tur and Jabal al-Mukaber, often by families who struggle to share tiny, cramped homes. “In America, they call raising horses the hobby of the rich,” said Muhamed Hamdan, 25, a Palestinian trainer who studied in the United States. “Here, it’s the hobby of the poor.”"
"Many Palestinians say that affection helps them endure life under Israeli occupation. Palestinians and Israelis in the business, as well as foreign trainers and judges who know the region, say that Arabian horses have another effect that is almost magical: They coax Israelis and Palestinians into the same arenas, where the conflict briefly melts away and everyone admires the horses as they strut, dance, gallop and compete for trophies. “The Arabian horse makes the world so small and puts people together,” said Renata Schibler, a Swiss official with the European Conference of Arab Horse Organizations, who volunteers as a judge in horse shows — essentially, beauty contests — in Israel, where both Israeli and Palestinian horses compete. “The Israelis, Palestinians, sitting together, enjoying the horses. It’s difficult to describe.”"
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