While city teems with violence, Jerusalem youth take a stand for peace
JERUSALEM | August 2, 2014
While the city teems with violence, heartbreak and fear, Jerusalem youth take a stance against violence with Kids4Peace. Over 100 Israeli and Palestinians are spending this summer deepening their relationships with each other and learning important leadership skills to affect change in society.
As the only interfaith youth movement in Jerusalem, Kids4Peace is more than just a program: it’s a community. Amid the current turmoil, pain, and violence facing Palestinians and Israelis, hundreds of local Kids4Peace youth and families continue to come together to show an alternative to violence. These youth– from religious and secular Jewish, Christian, and Muslim homes throughout Jerusalem and the West Bank– are part of a six-year year-round program of interfaith dialogue, leadership development and nonviolent action.
The youth meet each other as 6th graders, and grow up together in a program that develops with them and accompanies them through adulthood. Like any youth movement, summer camp is a highlight. Since the outbreak of the recent violence and operation, Kids4Peace staff was determined more than ever to operate all summer programs this year as usual, including summer programs taking place abroad.
“We have just learned that ALL of our Palestinian and Israeli youth and staff will be able to participate in Kids4Peace camps this summer,” said co-Director Rebecca Sullum. “According to our contacts at COGAT and Airport Security, we are apparently one of the only–if not the only– program that has been able to have Israelis and Palestinians fly together this summer from Ben Gurion Airport.”
This year 99 youth, 8 counselors, and 22 adult staff are joining their counterparts from America summer camps in Seattle, Houston, Vermont and New Hampshire during the month of August. Additionally, Kids4Peace hosts a local summer program on Kibbutz Ketura for 8th grade Israelis and Palestinians focusing on environment, identity and responsibility.
“Without exception, parents want their children to come to camp — as a respite from the conflict and a safe place to counteract the stereotypes, vengeance and mistrust which are deepening by the day. In a time of despair, Kids4Peace is a glimmer of hope.” -Fr. Josh Thomas, Executive Director of Kids4Peace International
QUOTES FROM COMMUNITY MEMBERS:
“I believe Kids4Peace is very important because I never even met a Jew before. How can I hate them if I don’t even know them? Maybe I will see that we are the same, maybe not, but I don’t know.” -11-year-old Muslim girl from East Jerusalem
“I’m learning Arabic in school but I’m not learning about Arabs. I think it is important to speak each others languages in order to get to know each other.” -12-year-old Jewish boy from Jerusalem
“We should plant the seeds. Peace programs are usually a failure because they have a hidden agenda behind them. However, Kids4Peace has a good base. Everything is clear and there are no hidden agendas. Besides, K4P has a follow-up program. The alternative is oblique. We need more voices of peace to come back.” – Peter, Jerusalem parent
“I feel happy for real, for the first time in weeks. The kids are so excited. You don’t feel any anger between them now just excitement and relief. The last few meetings with the kids and their parents were very difficult because of the situation. It was an important process but now everyone is ready to be away for a while. Camp started perfectly, from the bus arriving on time, the kids all meeting at the office early, and Airport Security recognizing us as VIPs. We are on the plane and ready to fly and start camp already.” -Reeham Subhi, Kids4Peace Jerusalem Co-Director of Education
“I still go to camp to show the world that it is possible to have Palestinians and Israelis in the same room without hating each other.” – Adan, age 14, Muslim from East Jerusalem
“I still go to camp to prove that Israelis and Palestinians, Muslims, Christians and Jews can coexist and get together and talk about what they are feeling. We get together to talk, listen, respect and above all – try to understand each other.” -Emmanuel, age 15, Jewish from Jerusalem
More at www.k4p.org/camp
No stranger to violence, Kids4Peace was founded in 2002 when twelve Jerusalem families (four Jewish, four Christian, and four Muslim) each brought an eleven-year-old child to meet the other for the first time. Violence between Israelis and Palestinians was at an all-time high, yet these parents believed that coming together was their only hope. They believed, and we still believe, that together, peace is possible.
Kids4Peace is now an interfaith youth movement dedicated to ending conflict and inspiring hope in Jerusalem and other divided societies around the world. We serve over 400 Israeli and Palestinian. Our mission is to build interfaith communities that embody a culture of peace and empower a movement for change. We are trying to change the conversation — to bring new questions, and new answers to the struggle for peace, ones that are based in real relationships of trust and understanding.
Meredith Rothbart מרדית רותברט ميردث روثبارت
Director of Public Relations
Israeli Cell: 054-592-2773
US Number (forwards to Israeli cell): 720-262-7130
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