JERUSALEM | On August 13, 54 of new Israeli and Palestinian Seeds came together for the first time since returning home from the Seeds of Peace Camp earlier in the summer.
The re-entry meeting in Jerusalem gave them the opportunity to hear about each other’s experiences since the end of the first session of Camp on July 19.
“Given how tense the situation is, it was a true moment of pleasure to witness how happy the Seeds were to see each other after almost a month apart,” said Seeds of Peace Program Director Bashar Iraqi.
“It was inspiring the way they managed to bring in all their difficulties and concerns while still showing care and warmth towards each other,” added another Seeds of Peace Program Director, Maayan Poleg.
The day began with the Seeds meeting separately by delegation. After catching up with one another, the groups talked about how they expected to feel and what they hoped to get out of seeing “the other” for the first time since Camp.
Discussion topics included how unusual it is for this type of binational convening and how the dynamics of the groups differ in delegation groups compared to binational groups.
The Seeds also reflected on how the “the other side” is not only one voice and that within each group there are many narratives, feelings, opinions, and ways of behavior—and that Seeds have the opportunity to look at people beyond politics.
“I think we all came to this meeting today because we believe we can treat each other better,” said one Seed who is a Palestinian citizen of Israel.
The Seeds shared their experiences at Camp and returning home, as well as the things that have changed or that they have learned about themselves as a result of the program.
“I refused to think about the other side,” said a Palestinian Seed during the meeting. “Now I can’t not think about the other side when I think about the future. I want justice for my people and I want a better future.”
Finally, each group asked of the other, “What do you think made ‘them’ come to Camp, and why do you think they came here today?”
Afterward, the Seeds split into four binational groups, giving them the chance to share and hear about experiences very distinct from their own.
“Living in the dark, not knowing and not learning about the other side is easier,” said an Israeli Seed.
“When I became a Seed, a light came to this darkness. Now it [has become] harder, because I learned I don’t know everything. I want to know more, even though knowing more means more doubts and more challenges. I appreciate that light.”
One goal of the event was to impart that being a Seed and engaging in these kinds of programs back home means being part of a network committed to leading change, without shying away from the real difficulties that come with it.
“I look forward to more Seeds of Peace meetings, so I can learn how to transfer my experience at Camp to my community,” said a Palestinian Seed at the re-entry meeting’s conclusion.
An Israeli Seed added, “I come here with questions and doubts, but I know this is where I want to be and I know I want to learn more and hear more and share more.”