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January 10, 2003 - Image 20

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-01-10

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Roadmap For Recovery

Rabbi Scott Bolton sees first hand how the war-ravaged
Balkans struggle to pick up the pieces.


Copy Editor/Education Writer

"Evidently, certain people read that letter and
felt it put me in the Seeds of Peace camp. I was
invited to be a Peace Partner."

respect who feel very much that the Palestinians
have legitimate issues.
"But do we use our limited resources to bring
kids to an idyllic setting in Maine, pulling in high-
performing teens who are in a romantic, philo-
sophical part of life, and saying, can you get
"I suggest the money might be better spent lever-
aging Seeds' relationship with adults, teaching edu-
cators and other adults how to convey these goals
to young people in the reality of their homes."

abbi Scott Bolton thought long and hard
before adding his name to the list of
Opportunities For Dialogue
Peace Partners.
A new program of the international
The Peace Partners program, which began this year,
bridge-building organization Seeds of Peace, Peace
is directed by Barbara Zasloff of Washington,
Partners is a multi-ethnic delegation of American
D.C., a Seeds of Peace vice president. Major fund-
adults. Its major funding comes from the U.S.
ing comes from the United States Department of
Department of State.
State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs,
The program began last summer with a nine-day with Seeds providing matching funds.
session at Seeds of Peace camp in Maine. In early
"The program is for Arab Americans and Jewish
Why The Balkans?
December, most of the Peace Partner members
Americans to interact and learn from one another,"
joined with adults from the Middle East on a five-
Zasloff said. "This is important at all times, and
The destination of the Peace Partners fact-finding
day fact-finding tour of Bosnia and Croatia. This
especially in these times.
trip was chosen to show the participants, all some-
spring, the group hopes to meet again in the
"The purpose of the organization is to create
how involved in Jewish-Arab relations, how an area
Middle East.
that had been devastated by inter-eth-
"Up until the last minute, I was
nic warfare was rebuilding itself.
asking myself, 'Is this the proper place
"In a community that has been torn
for me to be?"' said Rabbi Bolton,
apart, what does responsible civic legis-
who teaches Jewish Studies at the
lation do to make sure the next genera-
Jewish Academy of Metropolitan
tion doesn't grow up hating one anoth-
Detroit. "I went as much as an inves-
er?" Zasloff said.
tigator as a participant.
Much of the trip was spent visiting
"Even now, I ask myself, 'Is Seeds
schools. Educators were in the midst of
of Peace the correct organization for
writing a new curriculum that encour-
me to be involved in?"
aged a return to the multi-ethnic cul-
The 10-year-old Seeds of Peace is
ture that existed in the region through-
best known for its summer camp,
out history, Rabbi Bolton said.
which brings together teens from 22
"Having to write this curriculum
conflicted areas of the world. Seeds
prods educators and those involved
continues its work with young people
with children. They are the ones who
through publications, conferences and
have the future in their hands, even in
a coexistence center in Jerusalem.
advance of the politicians," Rabbi
The camp also includes adult dele-
Bolton said. "They can teach mistrust
gation leaders from each region who
and hate — or they can teach compro-
Rabbi Scott Bolton and Eli Katz, a Seeds of Peace Israeli delegation leader and
accompany teens from their home
mise and civility.
supervisor in Israel's Ministry of Education, enjoy dinner in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
countries to Seeds of Peace camp and
"What I saw was an attempt to
participate in dialogue through the
return to a level of civility through the
rest of the year. Like the teens, the
delegation leaders are usually chosen by their
opportunities for dialogue," she said. "There is no
The majority of schools are segregated along
country's education ministry.
agenda other than that.
ethno-religious lines, explained Nabil Satir of
Rabbi Bolton's involvement with Seeds of Peace
While Rabbi Bolton is enthusiastic about Seeds'
Bloomfield Hills, another Peace Partner.
stems from a letter he wrote to the Detroit News
efforts with adults, he has issues about the organi-
One exception was in Mostar, Bosnia-
after the 9-11 terrorist bombings.
zation's work with teens.
Herzegovina, where the predominately Muslim
On Sept. 13, 2001, columnist Nolan Finley had
"I began to have doubts about the program after
school also had Serbs and Croatians, who are prima-
written a piece denouncing blanket condemnation
a town hall meeting on [ABC television's news-
rily Russian Orthodox and Catholic, respectively.
of people of Arab descent. At the same time, he
magazine] Nightline, in which an Israeli teen
"We spoke to kids 8-13 years old," Satir said.
urged Arab Americans to denounce acts of terror-
involved in Seeds sounded like a Palestinian sym-
"They were just kids — laughing, extremely posi-
ism strongly and with conviction.
pathizer, even though she prefaced her remarks
"I wrote a letter to the News," Rabbi Bolton
talking about hoN,v much she loved Israel and call-
"We asked them pointed questions: How did the
said. "I said I wanted to applaud Finley's piece,
ing it her homeland," he said. "But I'm not about
war affect you? How do you want to move for-
that you have to judge all people as individuals. I
to judge an entire organization by one teenager —
said that, all too often, 'group think' leads to prej-
or even a few teenagers."
The students said they very much wanted to live
Rabbi Bolton was quick to add, "there are Jews I
together, Satir reported. "One 8-year-old said,





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