History

Explore two decades
of milestones year by year

1993

It all starts with 46 kids at a camp in Maine

Seeds of Peace founder John Wallach, an award-winning author and journalist, creates Seeds of Peace. He asks Bobbie Gottschalk, a seasoned clinical social worker and program developer, to become its executive director and Tim Wilson, a long-time camp director and educator, to run the Camp in Maine.

 

That summer, a group of 46 Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian, and American teenagers inaugurate the Camp. The Seeds are then President Clinton’s invited guests to the historic signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn.

1994

Separate swim areas introduced

Seeds of Peace doubles in size by welcoming a Jordanian delegation and adding an equal number of female campers to the program.

1995

Educators join the program

Morocco and Tunisia join the program by sending delegations to Maine.

 

Seeds of Peace responds to crisis in the Balkans by inviting a group of Balkan youth to Camp. The Delegation Leader program for adult educators at Camp is formally created.

1996

Roll the presses!

Over 200 Israeli and Arab Seeds are hosted in Jordan by His Majesty King Hussein at the first Seeds of Peace reunion. Qatar sends a delegation to Camp. The Olive Branch, a youth magazine created by Seeds of Peace alumni, begins publication.

1997

A camp of our own

The Seeds of Peace Camp becomes an institution with its own facility in Otisfield, Maine. With seven delegations from the Middle East, Seeds of Peace has now tripled in size since 1993, and it begins regional programming in the Middle East with its alumni.

1998

A summit in the Alps

The Middle East Youth Summit is held in May in Villars, Switzerland, with Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian, Jordanian, and American Seed delegates. The Summit results in The Charter of Villars, an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty resolving the Final Status issues of Jerusalem, refugees, land, security and sovereignty.

Queen Noor, Shimon Peres, Sa’eb Erekat and Hillary Clinton address the Summit; Clinton calls for a Palestinian state. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan accepts The Charter of Villars in person.

 

The Cyprus program is launched, and for the first time, two consecutive summer sessions are held at Camp.

 

The Seeds of Peace website launches and the CBS television show 60 Minutes visits the Camp for a 14-minute segment on the program.

1999

Meeting space in Jerusalem

The Seeds of Peace Center for Coexistence in Jerusalem opens on October 27, 1999, in a remarkable ceremony attended by Palestinian, Israeli, American and European leaders of the peace process and more than 500 Palestinian, Israeli, Egyptian, Jordanian, and Greek and Turkish Cypriot Seeds. Located on the dividing line between East and West Jerusalem, the Center serves as a neutral meeting space for Israeli and Palestinian Seeds and their friends and families and as the headquarters of the expanding Regional Program.

 

Three successive Camp sessions are held in 1999 with a record 405 Seeds. Israeli and Palestinian Seeds release the award-winning documentary film Peace of MindSeedsNet, a secure listserve that provides a forum for alumni to correspond with each other through email, is launched.

2000

Asel Asleh (1983-2000)

The Balkans Program holds a summer camp at the site of the Olympic Village in Greece, and the Portland Project (Maine Seeds) is launched. Yemen joins the other Middle East delegations while Greek and Turkish delegations join the Cypriot program.

 

Seeds of Peace is honored by UNESCO for promoting tolerance and non-violence, and Teaching Peace, an educational software tool, is created and published by Arab and Israeli Seeds. 

 

Asel Asleh, a Seed from the Palestinian village of Arrabeh in the Galilee area of Israel, is killed on October 2 by Israeli police forces.

2001

Responding to 9/11

Seeds of Peace expands to South Asia with the India-Pakistan Program. To help its alumni continue their education and leadership training, Seeds of Peace establishes the Education Scholarship Program.

 

In response to September 11th, Seeds of Peace convenes the International Youth Summit on Uprooting Hatred and Terror, which is held at the United Nations in November of 2001. At the conference, Seeds of Peace brings together 120 Seeds from 22 nations to address the roots of terror, hatred, and violence. Delegates meet with visiting heads of state, renowned academics, business leaders, and media personalities to inform their Charter on Uprooting Hatred and Terror.

2002

John Wallach (1943-2002)

Founder John Wallach passes away, but is able to see his dream enter its 10th season.

 

The South Asia Program expands to include an Afghan delegation. Palestinian and Israeli Seeds win the Voices of Courage award given by the Women’s Commission on Refugee Women and Children. Over 100 Seeds are on scholarships at universities and colleges in North America through the Education Program. The documentary film SEEDS is filmed at Camp with a 2004 release date.

2003

Bipartisan support

Aaron David Miller, former Senior Advisor for Arab-Israeli negotiations at the U.S. Department of State, becomes President of Seeds of Peace. Seeds of Peace holds its third international youth conference, Breaking News, Making Headlines: The Role of the Media in Conflict Regions, attended by 120 program alumni. Former US Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton join the Advisory Board.

 

The US House of Representatives unanimously passes a bipartisan resolution honoring Seeds of Peace for its promotion of understanding, reconciliation, acceptance, coexistence and peace among youth from conflict regions. House Concurrent Resolution 288, introduced by Representative Tom Allen (D-ME), states, “It is especially important to reaffirm that youth must be involved in long-term, visionary solutions to conflicts perpetuated by cycles of violence.” It calls Seeds of Peace “a model of hope that living together in peace and security is possible.”

2004

Sesame Seeds

Seeds of Peace partners with Sesame Workshop and the Daniel Pearl Foundation to help prepare Seeds of Peace graduates for future leadership positions. The feature-length independent documentary film SEEDS premieres at the Silverdocs Film Festival.

 

Seeds of Peace launches Beyond Borders/بلا حدود, a groundbreaking exchange program for 65 young Americans and Arabs geared toward building mutual understanding and respect. The first part of the program is held at Camp and brings together Saudis, Kuwaitis, Iraqis, Yemenis, Jordanians and Egyptians as well as Americans from six US cities.

 

Middle East graduate Seeds meet in Cyprus. Former US Secretary of State James Baker delivers a lecture at the second Seeds of Peace Forum on Conflict & Diplomacy.

2005

Reaching Beyond Borders

The second part of the Beyond Borders/بلا حدود Program is held in Jordan. The participants reconvene in March for a week of seminars, continued cultural exchange, leadership training, and planning for continued activities, and are guests of King Abdullah II at the Royal Palaces.

 

120 Palestinian, Jordanian, Israeli and Egyptian Graduate Seeds return to Camp during the summer for the first-ever Seeds of Peace Leadership Summit. In October, Israeli and Palestinian Seeds travel to Spain at the invitation of the DKV Joventut pro-basketball team for a week of dialogue and hoops.

2006

Taking Action

Regional offices in Ramallah and Tel Aviv are opened after the Jerusalem Center closes. The first edition of Roots: The Graduate Seed Alumni Magazine is published. Graduates continue the work begun during the Leadership Summit with an appropriately titled Action Summit in September. Thirty Graduates attend the five-day event, held at Manhattanville College in New York.

 

At Camp, Graduates trained as professional facilitators run dialogue sessions for younger Seeds. Seeds of Peace shares the 2006 King Hussein Leadership Prize with Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

2007

'Hope can survive'

The first editions of Passport, a publication for Seeds from all delegations working or studying in the US, are produced. Binational programming between Israelis and Palestinians intensifies with the In Your ShoesPeacing it Together, and Negotiation Summit seminars. SeedsBook, a private website for Seeds modeled after Facebook, debuts.

 

Seeds of Peace receives the Oklahoma City National Memorial Reflections of Hope Award for demonstrating “that hope can survive and blossom amidst the tragedy and chaos of political violence and that, even in environments marred by such violence, peaceful, nonviolent approaches provide the best answers to human problems.”

2008

Networking our alumni

Forty-four Graduate Seeds from Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, and the US, and spanning Camp years 1993-2000, attend the four-day Seeds of Peace Summit in Aqaba in order to adopt a proposal for launching the Seeds of Peace Graduate Association. The Seeds participate in workshops on community organizing, working with the media, and using business and entrepreneurship to build understanding. Fifty graduate Seeds meet in Rabat, Morocco, in October in order further develop the Graduate Association and examine the role of community service in graduate initiatives.

2009

New leadership

The 4,000th Seed graduates from the Camp. Leslie Lewin is appointed Executive Director of Seeds of Peace after serving 10 years as part of the organization’s program staff.

 

The Women’s Leadership Training Program for Greater Economic Participation brings 15 female Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian and Egyptian Seeds together in Amman and Washington, D.C., to increase their leadership skills as well as their understanding of avenues to economic empowerment and participation in their countries. Supporters in London establish Seeds of Peace UK.

2010

Experiential learning

Seeds of Peace launches the Bayti Program to bring American Seeds to the Middle East during the summer to learn about the conflict directly from their Palestinian and Israeli peers. Graduate Seeds help lead McKinsey & Company Global New Partner Orientation week in Jerusalem.

2011

Egyptian Seeds participate in the Tahrir Revolution. Syracuse joins the Maine Seeds program at Camp.

 

Two counselors launch Seas of Peace, a dialogue program for returning campers, on a 140-foot sailing boat off the coast of Maine. Egyptian, Jordanian, Israeli, Palestinian and American Seeds attend a week-long multinational People Power seminar in Jordan to examine the Arab Spring.

2012

Celebrating 20 years

Camp is held for the 20th summer. Sixty Seeds from the Middle East, South Asia, and the United States meet in Ireland to learn about past approaches to international conflicts.

2013

5,000 Seeds

The number of Seeds reaches over 5,000 following two sessions of Camp in Maine. The third summer of Seas of Peace is held off the coast of Maine, with 16 older Seeds crewing the The Roseway, a 137-foot tall masted schooner.

2014

A global platform

The Seeds of Peace Camp receives unprecedented media attention during the summer war in Gaza. Over 40 news organizations, including NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, Al Jazeera America, NPR, MSNBC, Newsweek, CBC, and The Today Show, provide Seeds with a platform to share their experience and views with a global audience.

2015

Accelerating impact

Seeds of Peace launches the GATHER initiative designed to support practical action by Seeds, Educators, and others to advance change. The initiative kicks off with a convening in Jordan for over 200 changemakers from more than 20 countries. As part of the initiative, Seeds of Peace inaugurates a fellowship program to accelerate the projects of Seeds and others whose work lies at the intersection of social change and conflict transformation.

Associate Camp Director Wil Smith passes away in February at the age of 46 after a three-year battle with cancer.