Seeds of Peace participants

Youth return from Palestinian-Israeli summer camp with new perspective

Israeli, Arab teens meet in US, discuss harsh reality. 'If I were him I would also call it occupation,' Israeli says of encounter with Palestinian

Dozens of Israeli youths returned last week from a summer camp with fellow teenagers from the Middle East, including the Palestinian Authority.


They ate and slept together, weighed in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and discussed the feelings and difficulties they encounter due to their environment.


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"In one of the dialogues I said the word 'occupation' in quotation marks. One of the Palestinian students got really mad and shouted at me," Michael, a participant, recounted.


בני נוער במחנה. "חוויה של פעם בחיים"

At the summer camp


"I didn't think at that moment about the repercussions of my actions, and then I understood that though I disagree, if I were at his place I would also have called it occupation."


He and his friends described the camp as a "once in a lifetime experience," and added that in the course of the project "we talked about historical events and shared our fears with them, and they described to us their way of life and their daily difficulties vis-à-vis the IDF .


"I've made five new friends, and what's sad is that they live 30 km away from us but we had to travel tens of thousands of kilometers to meet."


The Seeds of Peace NGO, the group behind the summer camp, was established in 1993 to encourage teenagers from the Middle East to meet in a neutral location and promote peace.


Every summer Israeli youth travel to camps in Maine, New England, where they meet with teens from neighboring countries.


This time, the Israelis met with teenagers from the Palestinian Authority, east Jerusalem, Gaza, Egypt, Jordan and the United States.


"The meaning is that our children are at the front," Iris Cohen, the Education Ministry appointed delegation head, explained.


"All the beliefs, opinions and sometimes facts that the others arrive with sound to their ears obtuse and unpleasant. The first meetings were very charged, they saw the enemy.


"But slowly they discover one another, learn to listen, and something is built." 



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פרסום ראשון: 07.24.13, 13:52
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