Helping Seeds Grow
The kids write and then talk
uring a lull this
about how they see the city:
past summer, a
Julia, a daughter of Russian
period of no
immigrants, notes as she fin-
gers the fringe of her long
easy checkpoints, I joined 25
peasant skirt, We always say
prayers, 'Next Year in
teenagers in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem.' This was the heart
Cocooned by their diversity, I
of Zion. It's God's city because
thought no suicide attack, or
the Temple was here."
as Mahmoud from Gaza
Haider from East Jerusalem
called them, "military opera-
GREENBAUM wears a baseball cap and rolled
tion," would touch us as we
jeans. He says, "The prophet
toured together both the Arab
Muhamed came here to Al
and Jewish sectors of
Aksa and to the sky."
Mashleen, a Christian Arab
All summer long, the See&
from Haifa who wears blue nail polish
of Peace Center for Coexistence on
and several bangle bracelets says, "It's
French Hill offers programs to reunite
where Jesus walked. I get strong, power-
teens from Israel, the West Bank and
Gala who have attended the Seeds of
She pauses and adds thoughtfully, "At
Peace Camp in Otisfield, Maine. The
the end, there's only one God. I guess
camp brings together teens who are the
God has a message for us: this is how
"seeds" of hope from war-torn regions:
you have to learn to live together."
Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan
We walk together through the Cardo,
and Egypt; Afganistan; India and
the Old City market, and climb to the
Pakistan, the Balkans.
top of the Lutheran Church for the
What the Center in Jerusalem does
We visit Mea Shearim and Sala.din
best, according to Jen Marlowe, the assis-
Street. In a West Jerusalem cafe, we listen
tant director, "is inspire and allow the
to Joel Weinberg, a Knesset member. In
teens to be inspirational to each other."
an East Jerusalem hotel, we listen to Sari
To help this happen, Jen gets up at 4
Nusseibeh, president of Al Quds
a.m. to pick up "Seeds" from Gaza,
University. The kids wear their green
Jenin, Jericho, Nablus, Hebron, Haifa,
Seeds of Peace T-shirts from camp or
Hadera, Beit Shemesh, Afula and
newly issued white ones with Jerusalem
Ashdod, and brings them to the semi-
printed in Hebrew, English and Arabic
nars in Jerusalem.
on the back. You can't really tell, just by
The first stop of our "Intensive
looking, who's an Arab and who's a Jew.
Jerusalem Seminar" is on the Mount of
In Tmol Shilshom, a cafe-bookstore
Olives overlooking the walled city with
steps from Zion Square, we listen to
its synagogues, mosques and churches.
Zelig Feiner from the humanitarian
organization ZAKA, a group of
Beth Aviv Greenbaum is an English
Orthodox volunteers who scrape up sev-
teacher at Birmingham Groves High
ered skin and bone after suicide bomb-
School and author of "Bearing Witness:
ings. Fade!, who is from Jenin and who
Teaching About the Holocaust"
has said he would die for Jerusalem, rais-
Living Israel's Contradictions
first, the good news about
SquarePants" is a big hit
with kids here. That may
sound silly, but when you're looking
for "normal" in a country beset by
as many problems as Israel, the fact
that many children are enjoying a
happy childhood in the midst of the
Bob Menaker is editor of the Atlanta
Jewish Times, sister publication of the
Detroit Jewish News. His e-mail address
Palestinian intifada (uprising) is
nothing short of amazing.
That's what struck me on my first
visit to Israel in more than 30 years:
Everything seems so normal.
Take Tamara Schohat, a young
mother I met in Yokneam, a north-
ern town of some 17,000. Like
most suburban American parents,
her biggest daily problems are get-
ting her kids off to school in time,
commuting to Haifa — where she
teaches at a university — and put-
ting dinner on the table for her
Haider, a Muslim Arab from East Jerusalem, gazes at the Western Wall
es his hand. He wants to know if he, as a
Palestinian, can volunteer, too. Feiner
Later at a dinner prepared by local
Jewish and Arab families, Sharif, from
East Jerusalem, tells me that 9-11 was
surely planned by the Israeli Mossad.
I answer, "You know that's a myth."
Shard's mud-colored eyes widen as if
to say, "Yeah, right."
I catch my breath and ask him to
explain. And he does, reiterating what he
heard on Al Jazeera: that 4,000 Jews did
not show up for work on Sept. 11, that
the pilots must have been trained by the
Israeli air force. He would have had me
convinced if I didn't know better.
How to reconcile your will for peace
— and your fear of bombs? How to rec-
oncile your love of Israel and your
intense desire be able to walk through
Jerusalem without fear — with your will
to see the Palestinians feel they too, can
be safe? How do you end this conflict?
How do you live in peace?
At the end of our four days together,
as we gather on the tayelet overlooking
Jerusalem for one last look, Sharif
declares that one day he and his friends
will be leaders in education, in business,
in medicine, in government.
"If you think about it," he says, "Seeds
of Peace is going to take over the world.
One of the 2,000 kids will be a minister
or ruler. If he's a ruler, he'll have more
thoughts before sending tanks. When we
start working for peace, we'll need allies.
Other Seeds are allies.
"John Wallach [the founder of Seeds
of Peace] had a perfect plan. Imagine if
Seeds become leaders who have allies;
we'll have peace in 24 hours. So in 20
years, there's a great future — if every-
thing works as planned. If no one kills
General Assembly (GA)
here, lives in Kedumim, a
But while Schohat and
settlement of some 4,000
her friends and family are
people that sits far inside
living lives much like ours
the occupied territories.
— Yokneam has never been
For Shilloh, "the war is
hit by a terrorist attack —
inside Israel" and won't
many Israelis are not.
end anytime soon because
Shoshana Shilloh's "nor-
it's unlikely that any zig-
mal" day means wearing
zag of the security fence
body armor, checking secu-
Israel is building will ever
rity cameras and making
reach her town.
sure her assault rifle is
Those two women —
loaded. This former army
Schohat and Shilloh —
lieutenant, whom I met
embody the yin and yang of Israeli
during the opening session of the
society: the desire to enjoy the
United Jewish Communities'