JERUSALEM | On January 28-29, 60 Israelis and Palestinians (from across the West Bank) engaged in two days of dialogue, exploring Jerusalem as one of the defining unresolved issues of the conflict and hearing from guest lecturers.
By connecting the discussion to these issues directly, the seminar aimed to take the Camp dialogue sessions up a notch. In the weeks leading up to the event, Seeds met by delegation to research the topics relating to Jerusalem. The result was six hours of focused dialogue from which the Seeds came away with a much deeper understanding of the challenges that face Jerusalem’s residents, as well as concrete action plans to address some of these issues.
“The dialogue was so much more insightful,” said one Israeli Seed. “It was more mature than Camp. I now understand the Palestinian point of view referring to how Jerusalem should look, and sympathize with their situation of living under occupation.”
Two guest lecturers spoke about Jerusalem. Elie Isaacson, a spokesman for the Jerusalem mayor’s office, discussed various city policies.
“I was impressed by the very high level of questions asked in ways that demonstrated a genuine desire to learn and to understand complexities, in an overall constructive environment,” Isaacson said, calling the Seeds “a group of exceptional young people who quite possibly possess the right mix of conviction and open mindedness that is capable of leading us to a very different future.”
Aziz Abu Sara, Director of Middle East Projects at the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University, spoke about his personal experiences growing up in Jerusalem.
“It was amazing to see the dialogue between Elie and Aziz,” said one Seed. “It was seeing what both sides think from a different angle, not through dialogue I participated in between Seeds, but by two adults who have everything to do with the conflict.”
Older Seed Peer Leaders (PLs) led activities and dialogue throughout the seminar. “If dialogue is about understanding the other’s agenda and state of mind, then the PLs made it happen,” said another Seed.
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