At a camp in the northeastern United States, one-hundred-sixty teenagers from Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Qatar, and Tunisia spent three weeks this summer living together, working to transform hatred and misunderstanding into friendship.
The program is sponsored by Seeds of Peace, a non-profit organization dedicated to preparing young people to work together to promote coexistence and peace. Amir, a fifteen-year-old Israeli, said he was at first reluctant to attend a program with Arab teenagers. But as time passed, he found that his attitude had changed. "Before you judge people," Amir said, "you have to hear them out and learn about their point of view. Even though we may have disagreed. . .we learned to respect each other."
Secretary of State Colin Powell told the teenagers that the U.S. is committed to helping Israelis and Palestinians make peace:
"It's so important to push this message constantly that the dreams that we all have for two people(s) to live side-by-side in peace in the state of Israel and in Palestine will only come about when violence ends, when terror ends, when young people and old people all together join hands and say, 'Enough! Enough! This must stop!'"
Secretary of State Powell said that the violence and terrorism will not deter the U.S. or its friends and allies:
"We will not be stopped by bombs. We will not be stopped by this kind of violence. Because we owe it to you. We owe it to you to give you a better world, a better part of the world, than we have seen in recent years."
As Lena, a Palestinian teenager who participated in the Seeds of Peace program, said, "If we could co-exist together in a camp for three weeks, why don't we try to co-exist in a country together?" It is an excellent question.