Canadian Reena Lazar (
RLazar@uniserve.com ) is about to give birth to her first child.
In a way, it's her second.
Early last summer, 2003,
Reena wrote from her Vancouver, B.C. home: "This July, I will go to New
Mexico to a summer retreat called "Creativity for Peace" leading
compassionate listening and dialogue to 11 girls from Israel and Gaza. The
14-17-year-old girls. . . will spend two weeks together in a peaceful and
supportive setting that will foster their creativity and communication.
Experienced teachers and counselors will lead them in art and communication
activities and workshops. This is the first summer that this
"camp" will be in operation, and the director is hoping that the
number of participants will grow each year."
"Creativity for Peace Camp" in New Mexico DID grow this year, from one to two sessions. In fact, it couldn't handle all the applications that came from both Palestinian and Israeli youth who want to be leaders with original solutions and a new culture together. It's story is at:
Reena went home pregnant. . .with her compelling idea -- an inspired vision that she and many dozens of local Palestinian and Jewish volunteers brought to life during three weeks this summer, 2004.
She birthed "Peace it Together Camp," a 3-week experience in British Columbia for 15-16-year-old Israelis, Palestians, and Canadians, described at http://creativepeacenetwork.ca .
All about relationships, this creation was not done alone, but with inspired volunteers and exceptional Palestinian and Israeli youth campers discovered by dedicated, forward-thinking Palestinian and Israeli partners:
More good news: these camps are among eight in North America, described at:
Now read some stories about the
people of "Peace It Together" in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Reena wrote, last Tuesday, 24 August 2004:
"Here are some more signs of hope. . .Our kids just left yesterday, and I'm still on a high about how great it was. . .we got great TV and radio coverage as well. . .Lots of love."
close with a third press story about the camp. The reporter slips into
some traps of innaccuracy and imbalance, but have charity for the moment.
Reena reminds us of what a citizen can do.
She, with her Palestinian and Jewish partners, redefine people's huge power to change themselves and life on Earth, always together.
Let us bless Reena and both her babies, by doing all we can.
Published in the Vancouver Sun -- BC, Canada -- Monday, 23
Mid-East kids gain a personal peace
By Derrick Penner
VANCOUVER - It's no small thing that Razan Kutlo and Ben Lillmannstons became friends at summer camp in Vancouver. That was the point of bringing them here from their conflict-torn homes in Israel.
Back home, Kutlo, a 15-year-old Palestinian from Bethlehem, and Lillmannstons, the same age, Jewish and from Jerusalem, are separated by army checkpoints, their lives defined by the threat of suicide bombings and military retaliation.
In Canada they were among the first from each side to make friends. "[This program] changed my idea of Israeli people a little bit -- almost very much," Kutlo said. The message she will take home to Bethlehem is that Palestinians and Israeli Jews can get along.
They are typical teens. Kutlo's hair is curled in ringlets, and she wears a cream-and-beige striped top cut a touch high at the waist with black jeans a touch low. Lillmannstons wears a black T-shirt and sweatpants.
They were two of 10 Israeli Jewish and Palestinian teens taking part in the Peace it Together camp organized by local volunteers for the Creative Peace Network.
Reena Lazar, one of the organization's leaders, said it was almost necessary to take the teens out of Israel to make it happen. "Sometimes you need to take yourself out of the place where you feel anger, fear, hate and mistrust, so you can feel calm and rational." There were eight such camps in North America this year including two in Canada.
Lazar said a camp is the quickest, easiest and safest way to bring kids together and build trust over difficult issues. The group arrived in Vancouver Aug. 5 and three days later they went to Camp Jubilee on Indian Arm for six days of activities such as kayaking and hiking.
Some games were designed to encourage trust and cooperation. Discussion of the troubles back home was encouraged.
Kutlo said she came to understand that Israeli Jews are victims too because of the fear caused by suicide bombings.
Lillmannstons noted that a boy from his school and a maintenance man were killed in bombings. In turn, he gained understanding of what it's like to live under military occupation through Kutlo's stories of having her home raided by the Israeli army and being turned back from security checkpoints because she didn't have an identity card.
Lazar said it was gratifying to see the kids become committed to understanding each other. She thinks that for the first time, some of them feel hope. "Are we creating peace? I think we're creating a constituency. There is political peace, but those agreements are as fragile as the paper they're written on, unless people are committed to the agreements."
The teens leave Vancouver today and hope they will be able to keep up their friendships through e-mail, letters and visits.
Lillmannstons is aware of the barriers waiting when they get home -- Israeli Jews can easily visit Palestinians, but a reciprocal visit requires special permits that cost money.
Still, he says it's important to maintain the connection, because he knows what the alternative is costing.
"I just think all [that] happens in Palestine and Israel [is] we argue on land and we lose human lives. It's really important to try and make a difference. This is one of the ways we can do it."