Dear colleagues in Jewish-Palestinian dialogue and bridge-building,
Thanks to Barbie Gorlick (firstname.lastname@example.org), a synagogue Jewish educator and active participant in the successful Tri-Faith Dialogue of San Antonia (Texas), we received this poignant message of Leroy Sievers, Executive Producer of "Nightline" in Washington, DC.
Tonight, 18 May 2001, Nightline will tell us what has happened with the lives and relationships of Palestinian and Jewish youth who once formed bonds of friendship and understanding in the Maine summer camp of "Seeds of Peace" far from their homes in the Middle East.
We thought you would want to know. -- L&L
TONIGHTS SUBJECT: On yet another day when violence in the Middle East claims more lives, well look at what happened to the kids who participated in a program called Seeds of Peace, which brings together Israeli and Palestinian kids. The violence of the last year has strained and broken their commitments to peace, and to each other.
I woke up this morning to an unfortunately familiar story. More violence in the Middle East, more deaths, more injuries. This week has been particularly bad. Five Palestinian police killed in what the Israeli Army called a mistake. This morning an Israeli shot and killed while driving in his car. And then worst of all, todays suicide bombing at a shopping mall. The current death toll is seven, with scores wounded. We had already scheduled tonights broadcast before this latest violence, but now that it has happened, it makes tonights program even more timely.
Some time back, "Nightline" ran excerpts from a documentary on the Seeds of Peace program. That program brings together Israeli and Palestinian kids, along with kids from other Arab countries so they can get to know each other as people, something they all admit is difficult, if not impossible in the region today. They formed friendships that could never have happened over there. It is a wonderful documentary, and provided some reason for optimism that peace might some day be possible.
Gillian Findlay, an ABC News correspondent based in Israel, had the idea of tracking down the kids in the documentary to see what has happened to them, and whether the last months of violence had changed them. And it has. Friendships are strained. One of the Israeli kids is now a soldier. One Palestinian cant go home because of the violence. And one of the kids was killed in the first hours of violence some eight months ago. And how do they view each other today? Have those fragile friendships survived? And more important, do they still believe in peace? I always try not to make this email sound like a promotion, but tonights broadcast really is very powerful, and we hope youll tune in.
In something of a side note, the last time I wrote about the Middle East, I wrote about the deaths of two babies, one ten months old, one four months old. One Israeli, one Palestinian. I received many emails, many of which I responded to directly, asking how could I say that those two deaths were somehow equivalent. Some people made the point that the Israeli baby, shot by a sniper, was the victim of murder, while the Palestinian baby, killed when as Israeli tank fired on a neighborhood, was the victim of an accident.
Im sorry. As I said in my replies, I see the death of any child, killed because of the actions of adults in a conflict they couldnt possibly understand, to be a tragedy. To somehow try to excuse one, or to draw a distinction, to make one more tragic than another, is to me, evidence that this conflict will never be settled. Until everyone on both sides agrees that each death is tragic, that each life is of value, I believe that I will continue to write these same emails on a regular basis.
Why do I bring this up today? Because just before I wrote this, I was reading the wire accounts of todays mall bombing, and they mentioned a rescue worker finding a baby carriage in the debris, and the baby was seriously injured and may not live. Just the latest in a long line of tragedies. And we just got word that for the first time, the Israeli air force has reportedly used planes to bomb the town of Nablus, and early reports say there are at least five deaths. And people will still be arguing over which are more tragic, which are justified, which are deserved, and whos to blame. It makes me heartsick.
Friday, May 18, 2001
Leroy Sievers Executive Producer "Nightline" Offices Washington, D.C.
If you're interested in learning more about the Seeds of peace initiative, or to order a copy of the "Peace of Mind" documentary, visit the Global Action Project's Web site at http://www.global-action.org/
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