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April 11, 2003 - Image 21

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-04-11

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LOOKING FORWARD from page 17

groups from the Balkans.
Seeds has run more than 2,000 kids
in a decade through the camp in
Maine, which is the only the depar-
ture point for year-round co-existence
and conflict resolution programming
done primarily through our center in
Jerusalem.
We also run an adult Peace Partners
program, using a grant from the State
Department.

DJN: What are your plans for the
future of the organization?
ADM: My objective is to create a
stream of programming from the age
of 14, when these kids enter camp, to
the age of 22 — through their uni-
versity years.
We have 100 Seeds graduates now
at colleges and universities across the
U.S. The only way to affect attitudes
is through sustained follow-up over
time, not just for a 3V2-week session
in the woods of Maine.
If Seeds is going to have a real
impact, it has to be able to stand the
harsh realities of life in what I call the
neighborhood — in Israel, in the
West Bank, in Gaza, in Cairo, in
Amman.
This is where the program has to
really be tested. And circumstances at
the moment are very challenging. But
we continued to run hundreds of
Israeli and Palestinian kids over the
course of the past year through our
center of co-existence in Jerusalem.

DJN:Is Seeds of Peace accomplish-
ing its goals?
ADM: If you talk to the kids [who
attended Seeds camp in its earliest
years] now, at age 22 or 23, to see
what they're doing with their lives,
you could argue, 'Yes, Seeds works.'
Can you argue it will over time?
No, because they're simply too
young. If one of these gets to be a
prime minister or a president or a
foreign minister or the editor of a top
Palestinian or Israeli newspaper, if
they become elites in their own soci-
eties, and they grow from these expe-
riences, then I would argue, 'Yes, it
works.'
But it works in another way. It
gives young people an alternative to
hatred and, in some cases, to vio-
lence.
I'm not saying Seeds is going to
solve the Arab-Israeli conflict. It
won't.
But without creating these personal
ties and relationships, and training
leaders who believe that creating
common ground is the only way this

conflict is going to be resolved, we're
never going to get out of it.

DJN: How would you answer Seeds
opponents who argue that the organi-
zation promotes a left-wing agenda?
ADM: I take this issue extremely
seriously because it is not factually nor
philosophically correct. We are in the
center, which is where Arab and Israeli
peace will have to be made.
First, to attend Seeds camp, speak-
ing English is critical, so you're draw-
ing on kids who tend to be well edu-
cated, kids who represent the center of
their respective societies.
Also, the fact that they come repre-.
senting their governments makes Seeds
a much different kind of program
than many of the other ngo's [non-
governmental organizations], some of
which may well have left-of-center ori-
entations, which we don't.
We have kids from refugee camps
and from settlements. We have kids
representing a panoply of views on the
Arab-Israeli issue.
I don't want little peace robots who
come preprogrammed with- a left-of-
center view because peace between
Palestinians and Israelis will not be
made by [those on] the margins — it
will be made and forged in the center
of their respective societies. And these
kids reflect genuine and authoritative
representation of their societies.

DJN: There are those in the Detroit
Jewish community who say that the
activities of former Seeds employee
Adam Shapiro, who openly supports
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat,
shows that the organization has a
pro-Palestinian point of view. How
would you answer them?
ADM: In two months as Seeds pres-
ident, I have rarely encountered that
kind of attitude in any of my public
presentations.
As far as I'm concerned, that matter is
closed. Adam Shapiro is not an employ-
ee of this organization. His views and
opinions do not represent the views and
opinions of this organization.
I have no illusions that I'm going to
convince everybody in Detroit, in
Boston, in any community, that this is
the way to go.
There are a lot of people who simply
don't believe; there are a lot of people who
once believed but who no longer believe.
The extremes of this conflict are
probably unconvincible. What com-
pels me is not the margins, it's the
center. The center, by and large, is
silent. But there, nobody wants to give
up on the future. H

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