Tonight I went to a cultural celebration for peace in the middle east, called Salaam-Shalom. This event featured sixteen Palestinian and Israeli girls ranging from fifteen to seventeen-years-old who attend a three-week long camp in Santa Fe. The purpose of the camp is to recognize and empower women as future leaders. The girls learn how to speak to be heard, listen, and empathize with others’ stories.
They define an enemy as a person whose story you haven’t heard. The girls are encouraged to be compassionate to others while being true to their own traumatic experiences. Through talking, doing fun activities together, and art therapy they begin their healing. Having empathy for another’s pain is especially difficult now.
One Palestinian girl spoke of her 90-year-old grandmother who remembers nothing except being forced off of her land. The girl went on to speak of losing six loved ones in one night. An Israeli girl shared the terror of the 15-second warning of an incoming missile. She remembers as a twelve-year-old laying on the ground shielding her sister with her body when they couldn’t get to a shelter fast enough, and another time asking her sister to get her out of the shower if she didn’t hear the siren. Everyone had a story. Everyone lost loved ones. Everyone suffered. The thread that unites them is that they all have hope. They believe that peace is possible. Both sides experienced being ostracized by classmates at home for coming to this camp and making friends with enemy girls.
The leader asked, “Who is Israeli?” “Who is Palestinian?” A counselor yelled out, “We are all human beings!” And there you have it.
Beautiful post and very on topic right now. I have to send this to my friend in DC who is tweeting about what is going on in Palestine and Israel right now. Have a wonderful weekend.
Beautiful Ellie. These girls are the hope for humanity. Thank you for sharing.