In September 2005, one hundred and forty people of varying ages and backgrounds came together for three days near Yosemite National Park. Their reason? To participate in an initiative known as the ‘Palestinian/Jewish Family Peacemakers Camp’.
Attendees hailed from both North America and the Middle East and they had a common goal – to begin to understand each other’s fears, to alleviate their general ignorance about one another and to learn to live together.
The experiment was a huge success. It demonstrated very practically that prejudice breeds in the swamp of ignorance; it is easy to judge from the sidelines and to build barriers to inter-personal interactions. Real peacemaking takes place when people get together and accept each other as human beings; real peace building demands a ‘bottom up’ approach and demands mutual respect. And that’s exactly what happened!
Some people might say that this initiative is just a drop in the ocean. I don’t agree! Peacemaking starts and ends with people; each of the attendees will know many other people that they can influence and enthuse with their experiences. The drop then becomes a ripple…….and so on and so forth.
Here is a short video of the initiative: