Peace Camp (Boston and Canada)

I found these “Letters of Commitment” on the website of Peace Camp Canada, after a friend sent me a letter asking for support for Peace Camp Boston, which is opening this year.

I am moved beyond words by these letters. Palestinian teenagers pledging to help educate their own community that Israelis do want peace. Israeli teenagers pledging that when they go into the army, they will act humanely according to the dictates of their conscience.

You have to read them. They’re short. They’re powerful. Teens wrote them, speaking the truth to each other and making promises about what they will really try to do in their lives once they’re back home again. Things that won’t be easy. That I’m proud of and moved by. I hope I get to be that brave and stubborn in a good cause sometime. I hope my own children do.

Peace Camp: Israeli and Palestinian, Jewish-American and Palestinian-American kids. They come together for a 10 or 11 day camp dedicated to getting them to speak and listen to each other, including using artistic expression to find their voices. And the camp also does leadership education, so that they’ll go home and make a difference with what they’ve experienced and learned.

Peace Camp has four missions, one of which is:

3. To illuminate what has long been forgotten; namely that the similarities between Palestinians and Israelis, indeed between Muslims and Jews, by far exceeds the imagined and often exaggerated differences.


Here’s an excerpt from the letter that started my exploration:

Michele Divon, the daughter of an Israeli diplomat in Canada, started Peace
Camp Canada after the death in 2004 of members of a close friend’s family in
a suicide bombing. She engaged with a Jordanian and Iranian classmate at her
high school, from whom she had been keeping her distance after some earlier
difficult confrontations. Together, they agreed to start a camp to bring
youth from both sides together into dialogue. That program begins its fourth
year this summer. After Michele returned to Israel for her compulsory
military service, her brother Elan stepped forward to lead Peace Camp
Canada. Elan will also lead Peace Camp Boston for its first year this
summer. With her Palestinian colleagues, Elan’s and Michele’s mother Linda
Divon coordinates activities in Israel and Palestine, recruiting campers and
staff, securing travel arrangements, and assuring continuity of camper
relationships by arranging for reunions. [Her] sister Joli Divon Saraf has
designed our Boston web site,

It becomes easier to imagine the possibility of peace when one learns of the
February 8, 2007 reunion of campers and staff from the first three years of
Peace Camp Canada. With persistent support from Linda and the Israel Foreign Ministry, permitting and other obstacles were cleared. Active duty members of IDF applied for permission from their commanding officers to attend, and Palestinians made their way through military checkpoints, all to sustain and celebrate their relationships and recommit themselves to working together for peace.

Like its sister camp, Peace Camp Boston is distinguished from other, similar
camp programs by sustaining an exclusive focus on the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, and by the proportion of time spent in intensive training in
dialogue and leadership. The performing arts program affords a vehicle for
campers to find voices for their experiences. Peace Camp Boston, like its
sister camp Peace Camp Canada, holds a strong position in favor of intensive
dialogue among the parties. We do not take an institutional position on
particular issues in conflict. This allows us to recruit campers from all
positions on both Israeli and Palestinian sides. The camp staff…all have their own, often strongly held positions on the conflict. What unites us in the face of our differences is our passionate commitment to making room for sustained and difficult dialogue.

Same as Combatants for Peace, who have managed to keep talking even since Abir Aramin z”l, daughter of Bassam Aramin, one of the movement’s Palestinian leaders, was killed by a bullet fired by a member of the Israeli Border Police.

I know this isn’t an eloquent post. I’m just in awe of what I read and I want you to read it too. It won’t take a minute. Click here.