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14/07/2006

Weekend Youth Seminar - First of its Kind

" Between Hope and Pain", a seminar for 41 seventeen year-old high-school students 20 Israelis from Ashdod and 21 Palestinians from Beit Zafafa - took place in pastoral Shavei Zion on the weekend of May 5-7th (2005).

The seminar is an outcome of meetings of representatives of the Families Forum in the schools of the seminar participants for the purpose of opening "a window of opportunity" in the wall of fear, suspicion, stereotypical perception and prejudice which divides the youth of the two nations and for creating a dialogue of empathy and tolerance.

The program, planned and directed by six members of the Forum, was varied: small workshops, a walk to the city of Acco near by and social activities to foster a feeling of togetherness and belonging. Though the subjects dealt with were painful and complex, the teenagers were attentive, sensitive and respectful to each other even when disagreements were tough. The success of the seminar found convincing expression in the heart-felt warmth of the atmosphere engendered.

At the end of the seminar, the young participants declared themselves "Ambassadors for Peace" to the youth of the two nations, for a genuine dialogue and an end to the killing and violence between the two nations .

The moment of farewell was extremely exciting: they exchanged addresses, mails and phone numbers and found it difficult just to get into the buses for home. Again and again they asked for "one more minute", wanting to delay the parting, unwilling to separate.

For us, the Forum members who were with them all these days, it was a wonderful and moving sight, leaving us only to stand aside and wipe a tear from our eyes







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