Kids4Peace affected by Trump cuts to peace programs
Jerusalem’s largest interfaith youth movement pledges to continue work with Israelis and Palestinians.
[JERUSALEM – September 26, 2018] The Trump administration’s decision to block aid to the Palestinian people is now affecting Kids4Peace and other recipients of Conflict Management & Mitigation grants (CMM) from USAID. CMM has been the single largest funder of cross-border projects that create trust between Israelis and Palestinians and build support for peace in both societies.
Today, Kids4Peace Jerusalem reaches over 500 Muslim, Christian and Jewish youth and parents from diverse cultural, political and socioeconomic backgrounds. With the support of USAID, Kids4Peace operates a long-term, year-round program of dialogue, leadership and activism for youth age 12-18. Kids4Peace staff won the 2017 IIE Victor Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East, in recognition of this innovative and effective program model.
Without further USAID funding, Kids4Peace expects a major financial shortfall beginning in Fall 2019. The organization plans to reach out to foundations, individual donors, and other governments, so Kids4Peace Jerusalem’s programs can continue to thrive.
“Because of USAID, Kids4Peace has doubled in size, professionalized operations, and launched a new youth-led social action program that is creating peace in Jerusalem from the ground up,” said Fr. Josh Thomas, Executive Director of Kids4Peace International. “Without continued funding, we will have to turn away hundreds of Muslim, Jewish and Christian families who want a nonviolent, pro-peace youth program for their kids.”
Under an ongoing USAID grant, which is not affected by these changes, Kids4Peace launched the Youth Action Program, a groundbreaking initiative where teens exercise public leadership through community projects, speaking engagements, and town hall meetings with local officials. This program was conceived of and designed through capacity-building support from USAID and a research-practice grant from the US Institute of Peace.
“Kids4Peace has meant so much to my daughter and our family,” said Marla Stein, a Kids4Peace parent and local board member. “It’s virtually the only ray of hope in Jerusalem these days.”
Omar Dahleh, a 16 year-old participant in Kids4Peace said that “ funding cuts towards Palestinians at large and peace organizations specifically are a direct hindrance to a peaceful future for the region. These actions make my life more difficult as a Palestinian and undermine my efforts as a young Palestinian peace activist.”
Despite funding challenges, demand for Kids4Peace is increasing. Currently, Kids4Peace brings 70 new families to the community each year, but dreams of reaching the whole city.
“Our youth are constantly asking us for more opportunities to practice their leadership skills and make real change,” said Meredith Rothbart, Kids4Peace Jerusalem’s Co-Director. “We are committed to assuring that the families that have been waiting to join our community— Palestinian and Israeli alike —have a place to come together to work for a more peaceful reality in Jerusalem.”
“We think the administration’s decision to cut all aid from the Palestinian people is shortsighted and counterproductive. People-to-people initiatives supported by USAID have built a strong and diverse community of Israelis and Palestinians who are committed to nonviolence and believe in working together with the other side. This is the necessary foundation for a peace agreement and is the best hope to achieve a better future. We should be investing more, not less, in their efforts.” – Fr. Josh Thomas, Executive Director
To make a tax-deductible contribution, visit k4p.org/partner or email email@example.com for details about foundation, stock, or check gifts.
- Mr Trump, these grassroots programs plant seeds of interfaith trust [+61J, October 2, 2018]. By Ittay Flescher, Director of Kids4Peace Jerusalem’s Youth Action Program: “face-to-face interactions are one of the most powerful non-violent tools available to those who seek a better reality from the present.”
- U.S. Is Ending Final Source of Aid for Palestinian Civilians [New York Times, September 14, 2018]. Quotes Fr. Josh Thomas, Executive director: “We’re concerned that changes in aid would hurt the people most essential to any peace agreement by jeopardizing the momentum of organizations like ours.”
- U.S. Will No Longer Fund Peace-Building Programs For Palestinians [NPR, September 15, 2018]