NEW YORK | Seeds of Peace graduates from around the world continued their conference on “Uprooting Hatred and Terror,” remembering the victims of the September 11th attacks and meeting with prominent dignitaries and decision-makers, highlighted by Her Majesty Queen Noor, Nabil Sha’ath, Minister of Planning & Senior Deputy to President Arafat, and Aaron Miller, Senior Advisor to Secretary Colin Powell for Arab-Israeli Negotiations.
The day began with a reception with Her Majesty Queen Noor at the UN Millennium Plaza. A large group of Seeds of Peace supporters turned out to meet Her Majesty as well as the many Seeds from around the world. John Wallach presented Her Majesty with a Seeds of Peace brooch as a token of gratitude for her unwavering support of and assistance to the Seeds of Peace program, continuing the legacy of her late husband, King Hussein.
An ecumenical service at the Church Center for the United Nations followed the reception, as Seeds and guests gathered to remember the victims of violence and pray for peace. The service was officiated by representatives from many faiths, including remarks delivered by Rev. James Fitzgerald, Rabbi Joel Goor, Dr. Khurshid Khan, Imam Abu-Namous, and Dr. Uma Mysorekar. Hideko Udagawa performed a stirring rendition of Ciaccona by Bach, followed by “Wanting Memories,” a song performed by Seeds Mariam Bazeed and Keren Greenblatt.
Connie Taylor, who lost her son in the World Trade Center attacks, and Lauren Rosenzweig, who lost her husband when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center with him aboard, gave moving tributes to their loved ones, and both appealed for peace and understanding.
Her Majesty Queen Noor delivered a moving keynote address, reminding the audience of the continued need for Seeds of Peace—a need highlighted by the September 11th tragedies.
“We need your energy. Young people like you are an untapped force in the world today,” she said. “We need you to participate, to push, to fight for the future. We need your experience. Because you, the Seeds of Peace, have seen this before … We need your motivation. Seeds of Peace, we are ready to listen. We hope the tragedy of two months ago today will inspire and motivate people. You do not have to sit and watch while failed strategies continue to fuel conflict. You have fresh ideas, energy, courage, and the compassion to reach out to others like yourselves. You do this no matter what their religion, no matter what their race, no matter what their prejudices.”
The ecumenical service was followed by an important address by Nabil Sha’ath, who affirmed the Palestinian commitment to the Seeds of Peace program.
“I commit myself, and I have President Arafat’s support, that Palestinian children will join all your future camps in Maine and in the region itself,” Sha’ath said. Sha’ath also delivered some important revelations to the Seeds of Peace crowd, disclosing new aspects to a three-step American plan. Sha’ath explained that step one is the restatement of the end goal, an important aspect because “people hate to see the problem of their long-term struggle dwindling into just security arrangements. We must show everyone that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That there is an objective we all have to reach.”
Step two is immediate steps to reach a ceasefire and stop violence, and the final step is the full implementation of the Mitchell Plan.
In response to questions by Seeds of Peace delegates, Sha’ath also commented on United States President Bush’s decision not to meet with President Arafat.
“I don’t think it was helpful that President Bush did not meet with Mr. Arafat,” he said. “I think it was unhelpful. Nevertheless, I think the promise of a future meeting is real [and] the assurances we got from all the American officials that the President would like to have it in Washington in the White House, and not in the United Nations, alongside a very important international meeting like this. I have to say we accept that explanation and we hope that a meeting like this will happen as soon as possible.”
The evening ended with a discussion of the American perspective on the Middle East peace process and the war on terrorism, with Aaron Miller addressing the delegates at a dinner hosted by Manhattanville College.
Miller explained the rationale for American action in Afghanistan, and answered the many probing and powerful questions posed by the Seeds delegates.
Seeds of Peace graduates from around the world have gathered for a conference on “Uprooting Hatred and Terror,” which began on Saturday, November 10, and ends Thursday, November 15. The conference, coinciding with the United Nations’ General Assembly meetings, represents the first time that youth will interject their voice into the debate over violence and terrorism. Twenty-two delegations from regions of conflict such as the Middle East, South Asia, the Balkans, and Cyprus will exchange perspectives on the root causes of hatred and violence in and across communities, with particular focus on the role of the media, pop culture, education, economic disparity, safety and security, religion, principles of government, and guiding principles.