Last month, during a visit to Jerusalem, I was privileged to meet several representatives of “Seeds of Peace” – an international program that brings together teenagers from regions of conflict to share in a three-week summer camp experience at a lakeside setting in the woods of Maine. The purpose of the camp is to allow “young leaders from both sides of major conflicts to meet their enemies face-to-face, often for the first time in their lives.”
Among the representatives I met was a 17 year old Israeli, who – with wisdom and maturity far beyond his years – spoke articulately about his summer camp experience. He explained how he entered the program with a political point of view that was actually far to the right of his own parents, but that in meeting, talking with and ultimately befriending Palestinian youth, he began to understand and appreciate that there were other points of view that deserved to be heard and considered. As he himself put it, he listened and he learned.
He talked about how he listened as his Palestinian counterparts described their daily lives, and how he realized – for the first time – that the thoughts, feelings and experiences he shared in common with his newfound friends might just be greater than those that differed.
He talked about how he and other Israeli teenagers had been teamed with Palestinians in basketball games against current NBA players, and how they quickly learned it was necessary to cooperate with one another and work together in order to be successful.
Using words I was not expecting to hear from a 17 year old – words like “negotiation, “mediation,” “compromise,” and “resolution” – he reminded me, in a way I won’t soon forget, that in our effort to resolve conflict, whatever its nature and whatever its source, we can never place too much emphasis on the need to listen and learn.
As always, it would be my pleasure to assist you and your clients in the dispute resolution process. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of service.
Floyd J. Siegal