Marisa Fiore, a friend in the GLC, and I came across a website for a peace camp for Israeli and Palestinian children and youth in the United States. This sparked our interest, as we had never seen a program like this before. As Marisa explored the opportunities for these peace camps in America, I began to explore their options in the Middle East.
One peace school in the Middle East that particularly stuck out to me was The School for Peace. This was “the first educational school in Israel promoting broad scale change towards peace and more humane, egalitarian and just relations between Palestinians and Jews” (The School for Peace). This camp is designed for professional groups, women and youth and through this program, they develop awareness of the conflict and their role in it. Instead of focusing on interpersonal relationships, The School for Peace focuses on how the two groups relate to each other. Since the school was established in 1979, 60,000 Jews and Palestinians have participated. There are other schools like this in the Middle East, and many more like it in America.
It seems more important, yet undoubtedly more challenging to have a school for peace in the Middle East than it is to have one in America. Although the conflict travels with Palestinians and Jews everywhere, relationships are much tenser in the Middle East. It makes sense to go to the root of the problem and resolve it. These people are coming together to resolve their issues and actually get to know one another. Someone who one student saw as an enemy moments before entering the building can actually become their friend.
“The course was a crossroads in my life,” one former student expressed. “It was the first time I was involved with Jewish-Arab relations. Since then I’ve become a peace activist. What remains with me from the course is the experience of ‘putting everything on the table’ – and not worrying about discussing the most complicated issues.”
This experience is life changing for the students who come to these schools. In order to make peace and end this conflict, Jewish and Arab people need to have these conversations. Although it may seem like a small success now, everything has a beginning. Two people will talk and come to understand each other, then two more and two more after that. If these peace camps continue to be promoted, this could be the common occurrence in the Middle East. Although it’s hard to start a program like this, it’s rewarding in the end. We need to get to the root of the conflict by placing these peace camps in the Middle East and persuading Jewish and Arab people to join. Both children and adults should be involved, and one day there will be a resolution.
What do you think about peace camps in the Middle East? Are they a better, equally as effective or worse idea than peace camps in America? Check out Marisa’s blog as well and let us know what you think.