Israeli and Palestinian Teens Confront Each Other Peacefully at a Camp in Maine | NEWSWEEK
As Israeli and Palestinian leaders begin to engage in peace talks—albeit indirectly, during a 72-hour cease-fire—they would do well to follow the example set by some of their nations’ teenagers who have already started the difficult conversation.
Dialogue sessions began on Saturday at Seeds of Peace International Camp in Otisfield, Maine. Though this is the camp’s 22nd summer in operation, it is far from a smooth one, given the circumstances that the 95 Israeli and Palestinian teens left back at home last week. Upon arrival at the lakeside camp in the woods, they were joined by 87 other young people from Jordan, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the United States and welcomed by Seeds of Peace co-founder Bobbie Gottschalk, who introduced camp as “the way life could be.”
Over the course of the three-week program, each camper participates in fifteen 110-minute small group dialogue sessions led by professional facilitators. Sitting down to face people that they are accustomed to considering their “enemy,” these teenagers directly confront the difficult issues. They are encouraged to speak openly and honestly with one another about their own experiences of, beliefs about and raw feelings associated with the conflict, while learning to listen to and consider the perspectives of those on the other side of it.