MODI’IN | Last weekend, an introductory seminar for Israeli and Palestinian youth took place in the Arab-Israeli village of Neve Shalom. The seminar opened a program called “In Your Shoes,” which was initiated by Seeds of Peace, an organization that works to establish peace and understanding between youth who live in regions of conflict all over the world.
The youth who were chosen for the program, which holds joint seminars once a month, will get acquainted with one another through photographs and video tapes that document their lives and their daily routines, and through interviews, songs, and additional media.
Participants hail from a variety of locations, including Modi’in, Jerusalem, Hertzelia, Omer, Kadima, Ashkelon, Haifa, Teiba, Jenin, and Ramallah.
Seeds of Peace believes in nurturing continuous connections and friendships between youth after their return from its annual International Camp. Due to the security situation in the region, continuous contact between Israeli, Arab, and Palestinian youth is quite difficult; consequently, the “In Your Shoes” project was conceived.
The project is being carried out through the collaboration of Jewish and Palestinian organizing teams that work together on a daily basis and serve as an example of feasible and fruitful cooperation.
Eyal Ronder, Managing Director of Seeds of Peace’s Israeli programs and a resident of Modi’in, described the essence of the project.
“These kinds of meetings between Israeli and Palestinian youth are important and they constitute a fundamental tool for getting to know the other in practice, and for empowering the youth as the next generation of leaders in the region.” he said. “We believe in the great importance of providing basic tools of communication and getting to know the other side, because in another 10-15 years when these same youth are confronted with business or political negotiations, the results will prove to be more promising and more positive.”
Seeds of Peace works toward empowering young leaders from regions of conflict with the leadership skills required to advance reconciliation and coexistence. Its summer camp for youth has been taking place in Maine, in the United States, since 1993. Last year, two representatives from the Ironi A High School in Modi’in, Roee Bareket and Michal Sherman, also participated in the summer camp. They returned with the feeling that the only possibility for peace in the Middle East is through discussion.