Marvin Kalb: Young people can be important players in the search for peace. They may see opportunities for resolving conflict that are beyond the imagination of their elders. They are less burdened with traumas of the past. And, as future leaders, they are motivated to shape the world they will inherit. “Seeds of Peace,” which is supported by the Institute, is a unique summer camp experience for young people on both sides of conflict. It prepares young leaders from Israel and the Palestinian Territories to think afresh about one of the world’s most enduring conflicts. Graduates of the Seeds camp have gone on to become peacebuilders in their home communities. Here is one story:
Tamar Wides: My name is Tamar Wides. I am 17 years old. I am a religious Jew and I’m from Rehovot, Israel. Growing up, we didn’t have that many ideas about Palestinians or the conflict. Once I got older, I started getting more interested in news, and that’s when I started hearing about the other side.
Suma Qawasmi: My name is Suma Qawasmi. I am 17 years old. I am Palestinian from Jerusalem. I live in Sheikh Jarrah. We have problems with Israeli soldiers’ government because they want to take the land.
Tamar: This whole land…many religious people feel like there’s nothing here that you can compromise, and as long as the other side wants that land, there’s nothing we can do.
Suma: I wanted to come to the Seeds of Peace camp because I want to see how the other side, Israeli, think about us.
Tamar: The main problem of this conflict is you just don’t know the other side. I had no idea what the other side was like. I barely knew what my side was like.
Suma: I used to think that Israeli they are bad person, they are . . . I can’t communicate with them. I can’t talk to them. I can’t share anything with them.
(Sounds of Frisbee game.)
We sit and we share ideas, opinion. We don’t have to accept the other side opinions; just we have to listen to them and to understand.
Tamar: It started off as very loud yelling.
Suma: I know we have different opinions, but it’s okay. I know now that I can listen to them.
Tamar: It was very important for me personally to hear the personal stories: What’s bothering me, what I feel, what is my hurt, what is happening back at home?
Suma: We feel that we are equal; it make it more possible to talk and to share.
Tamar: (Sounds of laughter, softball game.) The main thing of how people can go out with trust is, “Hey, I just had a good time.” I caught myself laughing with this person, and then I suddenly realized, “Wait a second, this is the person that I yelled at an hour ago.” And that just gives you the opportunity to see the person underneath.
(Sounds of jet engine.)
Coming back from camp, I started with a sense of I need to teach them, and I need to show them no matter what they think.
Suma: I spoke with other peoples like my friends, my neighbors. Maybe the thing which I can do now is spread the opinion that Israeli they are human being the same as us.
Tamar: Young people are more important to peace making ‘cause they so have enough of an open mind to learn. I mean we haven’t started our path in life yet, so we can choose to go on a path of working towards it.
Suma: You can say that they are the future, so they can achieve something.