Israeli, Palestinian girls model Creativity for Peace

Wednesday 09 August 2006


"The pain! I cant bear the pain!
My heart! My heart is beating wildly!
I cant keep quiet; I hear the trumpets and the shouts of battle.
One disaster follows another; the whole country is left in ruins.
Suddenly our tents are destroyed; their curtains are torn to pieces.
How long must I see the battle raging and hear the blasts of trumpets?
The LORD says, My people are stupid; they dont know me.
They are like foolish children; they have no understanding.
They are experts at doing what is evil, but failures at doing what is good.
                                                                                          - Jeremiah 4:19-22  TEV

     And before Jeremiah was the Garden.
     There was the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
     And we were encouraged, from the beginning, to choose Good -- what is for Life.

     Prophets like Jeremiah were the neve'im, the "shouters" of principles to guide all humankind toward the highest.
     Together, inclusively -- always together.
     Today, modern Arab and Jewish Jeremiahs are getting shouting-help from the best of news reporters and broadcasters.
     Listen how THE WORLD, a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston, tells the story of modern-day prophets.

                Hear the story:
                See the photos:

     This story-that-matters is also told by the Santa Fe Reporter:


     These Jewish and Palestinian leaders-in-training will not give up.
     "Through it all, the three girls vow to keep in touch: to travel to the monthly gatherings Creativity for Peace holds for alumni, to tell everyone about their time in America, to hold tight to the powerful lessons they learned high in the New Mexico mountains."
     "'I will never forget this as long as I live,' a camper says.
     "Her new friends nod in agreement.

     These are Palestinian and Jewish teen girls at Creativity for Peace Camp -- .
     They choose Life.
     Best of all, they chose each other.
     And these brave Semites do not leave their relationships.
     Even in these times.
     Especially now.

     Now nine other similar North American programs are accelerating this long-awaited "public peace process:"
     Like prophets, increasing numbers of exceptional women and men can see a future that works for all.
     Without hesitation, they are already living this life together.
     And it looks Good.


Published in the Albuquerque Journal -- New Mexico, USA -- Sunday, July 30, 2006
On the Web at

Camp in Glorieta  Brings Israeli and Palestinian Girls Together
By Erica Cordova 

     GLORIETA Maya Hochstadter tightly squeezed the hand  of her new friiend, Raz Ben-Ari, tears streaming down her face, as the girls  spoke Wednesday of their fears about returning home to Israel.
     They both had just completed three weeks in the  peaceful confines of Glorieta's Creativity for Peace Camp, which each year  brings together a mix of
Palestinian and Israeli youths.
     For Hochstadter, the latest round of violence in the  Middle East struck close to home.
     Back in Israel, her friend Hadas, also 16 years old,  learned a couple of weeks ago that her brother Cpl. Gilad Shalit, 19 had been en  kidnapped when Palestinian militants crossed into southern Israel from  Gaza.
     In response, Israeli soldiers pushed their way into  Gaza seeking Shalit's release part of a sequence that has included war along  the Israel--Lebanon border. Shalit is believed to remain in militants'  hands.
     "At first, we didn't know if he was killed or  kidnapped," Hochstadter said. "It was hard. It takes time to sink in."
     The peace camp is sponsored by the nonprofit  Creativity for Peace, founded by Rachel Kaufman of Glorieta. It is in its fourth  year on a 55-acre site in the foothills of Glorieta Mesa.
     Its goal: to promote understanding among Israeli and  Palestinian youths.
     For several girls, it was the first time they'd been  face to face with someone from "the other side."
     And no time was wasted.
     During art classes, intense sessions known as  "dialogues" and other camp events, the 12 Palestinian and Israeli girls  expressed their fears, spoke of the dangers they face at home and worked to gain  each others' trust.
     This year's camp faced unusual difficulties.
     Participants were in New Mexico when the differences  the camp tries to overcome provoked another round of violence in their part of  the world.

Free of the fighting

     Working her hands in clay on July 9, the second day  of camp, Diana Fraija, a Palestinian from Tulkarem, created a pot that featured  impressions of her fingerprints to take home to her village.
     Later, she and the other girls would spread out in a  circle and work on a project called "One Bowl Serves Many."
     Each girl made a coil to add to a large pot that was  fired with shades of purple, green and yellow.
     "The place here is so beautiful," said Fraija after  the girls finished the pot, intended as a symbol of peace and reconciliation.  "No soldiers. No
checkpoints. It's exciting. I feel like I'm dreaming. I don't  want to go back."
     After the pot was finished, the girls walked to  their quarters to relax before a hike.
     Fraija and Jwana Ghaleb Mohammad, also Palestinian,  paired up to talk about the violence back home.
     "It's the first time we meet an Israeli girl,"  Fraija said. "We can't just imagine how they are. It's so nice to be around  them."
     She said home means checkpoints, raids and random  arrests, and she almost felt guilty for spending time in America.
     "There are millions of them that haven't experienced  peace. They will never know what peace means."
     Ghaleb Mohammad who wore a black and white shemagh,  a shawl-like ssymbol of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, said she  consoled herself by talking about the suffering in her country.
     "I want to send a message as a Palestinian person  that we want our peace," she said. "I like my land. I don't leave my  land."
Danger at home

     Midway through camp, Sylvia Margia, a staff  coordinator, learned that her own two children were in danger in northern  Israel.
     Margia has volunteered with Creativity for Peace the  last two years. Part of her job is to recruit girls ages 15 to 17 for the  camp.
     Margia said her ex-husband was taking care of her  children Jhony,  12, and Aia, 7 when Hezbollah-fired rockets started falling  near his home  close to the Israel-Lebanon border.
     She advised him to take the children to Nazareth  with her mother, only to find out later that the town was another target of the  rockets.
     "I talked to my parents and my family to be sure  that they are reporting to me," Margia said with tears in her eyes, debating  whether she should go home.
     Margia said this session was more difficult than  last year's because of the war.
     She and Anael Harpez, the other camp coordinator  from northern Israel, said they were afraid for their children and feared that  their homes might be
destroyed and that campers would be in danger upon their  return.
     "I never imagined this," Harpez said. "I'm scared  about losing the people that I love."
     Harpez will stay in America for three more weeks to  help with a second Creativity for Peace session with 12 more Israeli and  Palestinian girls.
     She said her son phoned her and advised her to stay  in New Mexico until the war is over.
     Harpez said, "Where I live, rockets have fallen  every day. I'm staying for the second camp and I'll decide what I'll do after  that."

'A lot of fun'

     During a bowling outing in Santa Fe, Liat Esther,  15, from Kibbutz Kfar Hanassi in northern Israel, gave a high five to Fraija,  her new Palestinian
friend. They danced to music playing in the background as  other campers bowled.
     "We have a lot of fun together," Esther said. "I  love these girls. They are amazing girls. I just enjoy being around everyone. I  always have fun with
them. It doesn't matter what we do."
     But home remains heavy on her mind.
     "It feels wrong sometimes," Esther said. "I feel  safe right now, but I feel like I should be with my mom and friends. It's a bit  scary right now, but I
know we'll be OK. At least we have shelters."

Saying goodbye

     At Wednesday's closing ceremony, teary-eyed Ben-Ari  volunteered to sing a peace song. She said she'd heard that at least three  rockets had hit her town: "The government has some kind of (base) there so they  are always bombing."
     The girls paired up and exchanged written wishes for  their new friends and buried them near a peace pole.
     Most girls sobbed and hugged one another tightly as  they prepared to go their separate ways.
     "I'll really miss you all. I know I might not see  you again. Thank you for everything," Esther said.