Nili's feedback&thoughts on peacecamp 2004:
Identity-PeaceCamp: Israel-Austria 2004
Nili Gross, Israel
This article about "identity project", which was conducted in the 2004 school year, was written four months after the project ended. With four months' perspective, insights have been gained that were not visible during the project or right after it ended. I assume that as time passes – every participant, teachers and students alike, will have more insights into the process, and the influence that the project has had on them.

There is no doubt that the project was fulfillment of a dream for me, and I know that it was so for my co-entrepreneur, Mrs. Evelyn Bohmer as well. What moves me to this day is the fact that both of us, sitting on two different continents, conjured this vision on our own. Without even knowing each other, our dreams joined and became one, and together we made it come true, in a way that sometimes seems as if it all happened by chance. The road we took until the project was finally on its way was long and paved with obstacles; many joined us and many deserted us to walk alone on a path that was long and tedious. What kept us from giving up was the uncompromising faith that we were on the right road, and that we wanted to take a part, even a small one, in touching a child's soul.

Education touches the soul. Education does not mean dictating faith or a given doctrine, but rather making a person ask questions that don't necessarily have answers, and knowing that it is his duty to always ask questions and to doubt. Doubting gives an option to confront reality, which sometime seems unchangeable. That's why education is, to my mind, the turning of children into grown men and women who are critical and aware of what is happening around them It was satisfying that, at last, a wonderful staff from Austria and Israel was assembled.

The team was composed of teachers from Alpen Adria, Ibn Sinna and Ramot Hefer schools, and some professionals. Moreover, a filming crew who were making a documentary film about the project joined us, and although they observed us from the outside or through a camera lens, they became an inseparable part of the project's entity.

The choice of the three different youth groups was not coincidental: The meeting between a group of Jewish-Israelis, Arab-Palestinian-Israelis who live between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and Austrian youth- who live on the boarder of Austria and Slovenia, was a meaningful meeting, on which I will elaborate later.

Samach, Manuela, Alex
Boat Race on the lake

The theme and name of the project was "Peace Camp" - a process of researching identities. The process was divided into two parts. The first part, in which every team worked separately with a teacher-guide on the research of personal, family and group identity. The second part included a meeting of the different groups in a ten-day camp in Austria, where the results were processed through different arts: dance, music, drama, and plastic art.

During the camp the participants got to know the Corinthian County, where we were hosted, through exploration of nature, geography and history-study activities. Debates about identity, politics and history were conducted, and the processing of it all was held in a psychological-analytical session at the end.

Why was the identity research chosen? We carry many diverse identities throughout our lives. To some we are born and they are unchangeable- like gender, family and ethnic identities, and some are given to us after birth, without our personal choosing, such as religious and national identities. Most of the communities in which we live do not allow a real search or doubt in regards to identities, because the change of identity threatens their stability. But without real exploration into our identities, we can never really fulfill ourselves in a satisfying way. We have to understand that we usually can't choose most of our identities, so we have to learn how to balance them.

Practicing for the show's dance

Right: Manuela's self identity art work

Part understanding our identities and the way they are chosen happens when we meet other identities, different from our own. Sometimes we build our identity by negating a different one. In this case, casting a negative shadow on a different identity gives a sense of meaning to our identity and this creates a bond between the people who carry it. In this way we sometime de-legitimize the culture of the different identity - the language, music, colors, and clothing. These topics were discussed in the different debates throughout camp: The Austrians spoke of the struggle the citizens of Slovenian origin had undergone, wanting the street signs to be written also in the Slovenian language, alongside the German language; and we discussed the fact that Arabs in Israel speak Hebrew, whereas the Jews do not speak Arabic. (The Jews learn Arabic only for the reason of spying on the enemy, and not for communicating and getting to know the Arabs.)

Many important questions were raised concerning the identities we carry: Do we live in peace with all of them? Are we capable of denying some of them and if so, are others willing to accept this denial? The holocaust was discussed in this context: When Jews were murdered because of their Jewish identity, even though some of them had no connection to it and some even denied it. Another topic was associated with the holocaust – the understanding that the Austrian group was composed of a third generation holocaust perpetrators. The question "how much guilt do you carry?" was raised. The understanding that the Jewish group was composed of third generation holocaust survivors raised the question of the "victim" identity, to which they are attached, alongside with the "aggressor" identity they find hard to admit. Both the Austrian, Jewish and Arab groups understood that the holocaust plays a crucial part in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that it has an effect on the Israeli's lack of trust in the Palestinians to this very day.

Playing music in the free time

Left: Planting an olive tree

The question of how reliable is media-information in wartime was raised, as well as the reliability and veracity of different topics learned in school. It seemed to the Austrians that they knew Israel's history better than the two other groups, even though these groups live in Israel.

There is no doubt that there is much that can be added about the important and interesting processes that came up during camp. My priority is not necessarily giving answers to these questions, but rather the asking of the questions, even the ones that were left hanging in the air after all the debates and activities were over. There is no doubt that these questions keep working their effects on the project's participants, long after the project's end.

A personal dynamic, which is not less important (and maybe even more), was created between the participants, beyond the working hours. The interaction between them, in the little free time they had, was rich, loving and respectful. The social connections and friendships that were formed will not soon, if ever, be forgotten. Even three months after the end, the participants still keep in close touch. It is understood that the Arab group, who have no Internet connection, are having a harder time keeping in touch, but those who can - do so.

The participants learned about the big differences between the groups, which stemmed from the different identities, but they also learned about what is common to them all as human beings. The social connections were built because of their ability to see beyond their differences, and because of the recognition that difference is not necessarily negative. Many and different identities create a richer and more beautiful reality, one which does not need to be threatening.

There were unexpected things - things that we needed to handle on a day-to-day basis. It turns out that the most basic needs like food and hygienic habits, which are also different due to cultural conditioning, presented difficulties, much like the other activities. We needed to overcome these differences in order to deal with the spiritual needs of the soul. We also dealt with perceptual and cultural differences between staff members, who had to function as guides and leaders of the project and also solve the problems amongst themselves. Identity differences, it turns out, touch every part and quality of our lives, and dealing with them isn't easy when we meet people who are different from us. We overcame these problems as well, and the evidence for this is our strong will to keep on working together in the future.

This project has touched the hearts of 26 teenagers in all, but in my eyes each and every one of them is a world of its own. I aspire and hope to keep conducting more projects such as this one in the near future, with new groups and also the old ones. Today, after the project has proved that we can make dreams come true, even when on the surface it seems impossible, I am full of hope that we can continue this important educational work. I hope that others will also believe in our purpose and agree to help us in the future.

I thank my loyal partner, Mrs. Evelyn Boehmer-Laufer, The President of "Hadassah-Austria", Mrs. Susanne Shaked, and her husband, Prof. Dr. Josef Shaked, who guided the psychoanalytical large-group-sessions, with all my heart. I thank the staff of teachers from the different schools for their efforts, their hard work and their undiminished faith in the success of the project. I thank the artistic team, the participants' parents who put their trust in us, and the wonderful participants who are the reason the project succeeded more than anyone expected. I thank the documentary film production team - the producer, the director, the cameraman and the soundmen, who became a wonderful part of our daily routine in camp, and of course the generous supporters of the project - the Karl Kahane Stiftung, the Austrian Ministry of Education and many others.

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After the summer: Our ruin turned into a castle (a true little story) - Sophia Hörmann
Sophia Hörmann--Our ruin turned into a castle (a true little story)

At first I noticed this old ruin – or whatever it has been – grey and black and dead.
But it had produced an impression on me.
Beside it – a small house with colourful art.
With big letters saying: MIR

Also many windows. Each one was long and large and dark.
It seemed so empty and filled with loneliness.

After some days very slowly the ruin turned into a beautiful castle because every evening there was one of us sitting at a window, looking out of it and personified an indescribable beauty.

“I think all together we are able to make the saddest place smile and shine – I´m sure!”

Sophia Hörmann, Austrian group

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After the summer: Saul reflects on peacecamp 2004 - Saul Ferguson, Austrian group
The peace camp 2004 was a great experience. Learning about two completely different
cultures and religions, new friends, sharing lifetime memories with them, seeing
mistakes of the past and working for a better future. This week opened my eyes to a
lot of new things. I learned how powerful the will for peace can be and how hard it
is to separate from a community that you love. I realised how dark the world can be
and how important moments (or a week) of light and sunshine are. How easily
everything can grow darker if we don't lighten it up every once in a while. Or how
we ignore many of these moments of light because we are too busy to stop and enjoy
them. So lets make sure everybody sees the light and love that evolved out of this
peace camp.

On the other hand I was surprised how much influence the modern state of Israel has
on its education system, how 14- and 15-year-old kids already have fixed minds which
can be quite extreme and how much still has to be done. Some discussions really went
under your skin.Tt was a real strain to watch your friends talk about things like a
brother of a Jewish kid was in the Israeli army and maybe killed relatives of
somebody of the Arab group. And especially as a member of the Austrian group one
could see how some Jewish participants would love one of their Arab friends but not
be willing to grant their people any more freedom.

Besides the fabulous time we had in that week, I think afterwards the Austrian
group realised how far the Israel still has to go to reach genuine peace but we were
all very happy to have made one step towards peace together.

Saul Ferguson, Austrian group

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After the summer: Samach Natur' report
Samach's report

It was wonderful experience for me. It was the first trip for me and I was so enthusiastic when we arrived to Austria, because it was so amazing. The sights were very attractive, and we felt very happy to meet each other. We all had wonderful relationships with each other. We all slept together (boys and girls apart) in a big room, shared many activities that contribute to the relationships we built.
I still hold beautiful memories from the camp. We enjoyed being with all the teachers, especially with Michael, the Musician. The cameraman, Yoav, that followed us everywhere, was also very kind. The film director, Walter, was of a great importance to us and was very curious in his questions.
I would like to thank our teacher that helped us during the camp to present ourselves in the best way.
The camp helped me decide what exactly Identity means for me.

Samach Natur

jewish and arab group' reunion after the sommercamp

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After the summer: Saja Kashkush remembers Rechberg
Saja's report

My trip to Austria

It was my first time abroad and to travel with an airplane. When my teacher told me that I was chosen to present my school in this trip’ I was thrilled, because it would be my first time ever.
The preparations for the trip started since day one. My friend and me started planning what to take and what to do. I was very excited when we arrived to the airport, where we had to go through the security check. But finally we were all together on the airplane.
I must say that at first I was very nervous and scared, but when the plan was in the air, I forgot my fear and I could start laughing and talking.
When we arrived to the camp in Austria, I was amazed when I saw the trashcans. You might think I am crazy to get excited from trashcans, but you should see the variety. There are special can for everything: glass, paper, metal, plastic, etc.
Austria is a wonderful country, and it is very green too. The scenery was very beautiful, the mountains are very high and the valleys so green.
The members of our teen delegation were Arabs and Jews and in Austria we met the Austrian teen delegation. We did a lot of activities together, in order to get us closer to each other. In short – we had great fun.
I learnt to speak English better; I made new friends, which in fact I miss a lot now!
This experience made me understand, as well as my friends, that the only way is to live in PEACE!

Saja Kashkush

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After the summer: Peace Camp - a very good experience - Sarah Lubinger, Austrian Group
Peace Camp – a very good experience
The first thing I want you to know is that the time I had during the Peace Camp was one of the best I’ve ever had. I had a lot of fun, and I met great people.
It was just a great experience. The Peace Camp was something totally new, for all of us and in the days before the Peace Camp I really felt a mixture of feelings. I was happy that I would be able to join in the camp, I was looking forward to it, I was somehow nervous and a little bit scared, because I didn’t know if the relation ship and communication between all of us would work. But all my fear proved to be unfounded.
I would lie if I said that the communication was good from the beginning, but after we lost shyness we really started talking about everything. But there was one problem. The communication between the Jewish and the Austrian group was better than the communication between the Arab and the Austrian group. Actually I don’t know why. Maybe because our cultures are too different. I learned a lot about all the other cultures while we were talking and I somehow had the feeling that the people of the Arab group where somehow afraid to say something, but I might be wrong.
In the course of time we became more and more familiar. All those workshops and activities we did connected us somehow. And I think it was great fun for everybody, although it was sometimes really exhausting.
Besides these workshops we also had meetings where we talked about serious things.
One big topic was the Middle East conflict.
It was interesting to hear something about it from the point of view of people involved-
I mean here in Austria we always hear reports on the radio, see pictures on TV and read articles in the newspaper. But even if you read a lot or hear a lot, you don’t have a proper idea, a clear picture of the situation in that area.
Everybody knows that it is incredible and every time you hear something everybody says : ”Oh my God, how terrible”
I know that it is terrible, but the fact is that nobody knows how terrible it is.
I really have to say that I never listened very carefully to the reports about the Middle East. But since the Peace Camp I have done so.
Because of all those conversations we had, I learned to understand a lot of things better than I did before. And that is why I am somehow glad that we talked about these topics.
Between those serious conversations and the very funny workshops we had a lot of free time.
Of course we spent it together. We made music, played games or were just sitting around somewhere talking – we just had fun. I really enjoyed those hours.
But of course every good thing has a beginning and an ending and I have to say that I didn’t think that saying good-bye would be so difficult for me.
And I am sure that I am not the only one who felt that way.
When I think about the scene at the airport where everybody was hugging each other and a lot of tears were running, I get sad again.
The last thing I want to say is that I am really happy that I had the chance to meet all of you and will never forget you.

Sarah Lubinger - Austrian Group

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After the summer: What peace-camp means to me - Reut's account
What peace-camp meant to me

In the beginning there were 26 kids from different cultures, and customs, who were put together in a fortress somewhere in south Austria.
First, everybody was a little anxious about what's going to happen in the next ten days, but after a few hours together, all of our fears disappeared into nothing.

My experience in Peace Camp was the most intense experience that I ever had. During those ten days I found out more about myself and what am I sending to the world, more than I ever had.
Peace camp has really opened my eyes to what is happening in Israel, and how the rest of the world is seeing us. It was really painful for me to see other Israeli people so fixed minded and way of thought that they won’t open their minds to new ones.
We won't achieve anything in our "fight" to obtain peace that way.
Between of all the debates and the preparations to the show we somehow managed to find some time to be alone just as a grope of teenagers having fun together.
Those moments were my favorite times, when we sang together with some guys playing on the guitar or we just sat together and talked about almost everything. Those moments are truly what made this experience so special to me.
I hope that this Peace Camp will continue to exist in years to come, so more people could have the same experience that I had, and more important that maybe, no - not maybe but that it will lead to peace, so that our children will be able to live in a peaceful world.

And I have just one more thing to say to the entire Arab and Austrians groups: I think we made a connection that will last for a lifetime.

With all my love
Reut levy-Carmel, Israel

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After the summer: Othman Hateeb
לאבלין, היידי, אלפי וכל התלמידים ובמיוחד לג'ורג' ולגברת האחראית על המטבח שתמיד קראה לי כדי לאשר את האוכל כדי שיהיה טוב גם עבור התלמידים הערביים, כיוון שעשיתי עליה רושם שאני באמת מבין באוכל.
אני מאוד מתגעגע אליכם ומחכה לכם בקוצר רוח ובכיליון עיניים כדי לקבל את פניכם בארצנו הקטנטונת, היפה והעייפה. החוויה הזו לא הייתה רק חוויה עבור התלמידים כבעלי ניסיון מוגבל, אלא גם עבורי ואפילו לנילי שחייתה באוסטריה כמה שנים קודם לכן.
זאת הייתה חוויה שמעולם לא חוויתי. אני, שעוסק רבות בתחום המפגשים הבין-תרבותיים עם יהודים וערבים, חוויתי בפעם הראשונה הצטרפות של קבוצה עם תרבות שונה, אבל גם מאוד מעניינת – הקבוצה האוסטרית.
יש לי אח שחי בגרמניה וסיפר לי לא מעט על התרבות האוסטרית, אבל מה שחוויתי במו עיני שווה לאלף שיעורים תיאורטיים. אני חושב שהאוסטרים צריכים להיות גאים בתרבותם ושעלינו הישראלים ללמוד מהם רבות. ברצוני לספר סיפור שהמחיש לי שעלינו, כאן בישראל, ללמוד מהתרבות האוסטרית:
ליד הטלפון הציבורי שדרכו התקשרתי לישראלי, הבחנתי בעמדת עיתונים ששמו אותם בשקית שקופה ומעליה קופה קטנה כדי לשים בה יורו אחד עבור כל עיתון שנלקח. השקית הייתה פתוחה וכל אחד יכול היה לקחת את העיתון ללא תשלום. נדהמתי מהאמון הרב שנותנים בתושבים, והחלטתי לחכות ליד השקית כדי לראות אם אכן התושבים משלמים עבור העיתון. חיכיתי בסמוך, והנה הגיע נהג במכוניתו. הוא עצר, הכניס ידו לכיסו, שם את המטבע בקופה, לקח עיתון אחד, סגר את השקית ונסע לדרכו.
חזרתי לטירה, כולו מלא כעס על התרבות הישראלית ובמיוחד על העולם המוסלמי. הרי האיסלאם מצווה עלינו להתנהג בדיוק כפי שהאוסטרי נהג, אלא שהוא פעל כך ממניעים תרבותיים ולא דתיים. את הסיפור הזה סיפרתי לכל אחד בעירי קלנסואה, כיוון שלדעתי, הוא ממחיש באופן ברור את הזהות התרבותית האוסטרית. אני, ערביי ישראל, היינו רוצים לאמץ התנהגות כזו משתי סיבות עיקריות:
1. תרבות האיסלאם מחייבת אותנו להתנהגות כזו.
2. עלינו להיות תמיד ישרים, כדי להפריך את הטענה שהערבים והמוסלמים הם עם פרימיטיבי וחסר השכלה.
כדי להמחיש את רגשותיי כתבתי שיר מיד עם חזרתי ארצה:
שמונה ועוד שמונה ועוד שמונה –
ערבים, יהודים ואוסטרים,
בטירה שקטה נידחת הם גרו
נוף מדהים ומזג אוויר סגרירי בלט
אל תוך הלילה עשינו פעמיים ברביקיו
על הזהות גם אני למדתי רבות.
חזרנו ארצה למציאות הקשה
כולם לחו"ל עוד יתגעגעו
לאוסטרים בקוצר רוח מחכים
אהלן וסהלן נאמר לכולם

חיינו יחד יותר מימים שמונה
שלושה זהויות ודתות מייצגים
הרבה צעקות ושירים הם שרו
המים בשפע והירוק שלט
למרות העייפות לכולם אמרנו: איי לאב יו
את השונות במנהגים הפנמתי
וביקשתי שלא יטיפו לנו מוסר
הכנסת אורחים של אברהם אבינו
אנו מבטיחים,
ואיך לחיות בשלום – נלמד את העולם.

עותמן חאטיב, אוקטובר 2004

Von Othman Hateeb

Shalom, Österreich!

Othman Hateeb und Michael Meroun

An Evelyn, Heidi, Elfi, und alle SchülerInnen, besonders Georg, and an die Dame, die für die Küche verantwortlich war und mich immer bat, zu überprüfen, ob das Essen auch für die arabischen SchülerInnen passte, weil ich ihr als Einer auffiel, der etwas vom Essen versteht.

Ich sehne mich sehr nach euch allen und warte mit Ungeduld und Vorfreude darauf, euch in unserem klitzekleinen, schönen und müden Land zu empfangen. Dieses Erlebnis war nicht nur für die unerfahrenen Jugendlichen, sondern auch für Erwachsene wie mich und Nili, die sogar schon in Österreich gelebt hat, eine besondere Erfahrung.

Es war dies ein Erlebnis, wie ich es noch nie zuvor erfahren hatte. Für mich, der ich mich intensiv mit multikulturellen Zusammenkünften von Juden und Arabern beschäftige, gab es zum ersten Mal ein Zusammentreffen mit einer sehr interessanten Gruppe aus einer völlig anderen Kultur, der österreichischen Gruppe.

Ich habe einen Bruder, der in Deutschland lebt und der mir schon viel über die österreichische Kultur erzählt hatte; das, was ich aber selbst erlebt habe, ist mehr wert als tausend Stunden Theorie. Ich denke, dass die Österreicher auf ihre Kultur stolz sein können und dass wir Israelis von ihnen viel lernen könnten. Ich möchte eine kleine Geschichte erzählen, die verdeutlicht, dass wir Israelis hier in unserem Land von der österreichischen Kultur lernen sollten:

Neben dem öffentlichen Telefon, von dem ich nach Israel anrief, befand sich ein kleiner Zeitungsstand mit einer Plastiktasche, in der die Zeitungen steckten, und darüber eine kleine Büchse, in die man für jede entnommene Zeitung einen Euro stecken sollte. Die Tasche war offen, so dass sich eigentlich jeder eine Zeitung nehmen konnte, auch ohne zu zahlen. Ich war über das Vertrauen, das man der Bevölkerung gab, sehr erstaunt und beschloss, mich neben diesen Zeitungsstand zu stellen und abzuwarten, was passieren würde, wenn sich Menschen Zeitungen herausholen würden. Ich stand also ein wenig abseits, und schon entstieg jemand seinem Auto, steckte die Hand in seine Hosentasche, entnahm dieser eine Münze, steckte diese in die Kasse, nahm sich eine Zeitung, schloss die Plastiktasche und fuhr seines Weges. Ich ging zur Burg zurück und fühlte große Wut über die israelische Gesellschaft und vor allem auf die muslimische Welt. Der Islam fordert von uns, uns genau so zu verhalten, wie es der Österreicher gerade getan hatte, der jedoch aus kulturellen und nicht aus religiösen Motiven so gehandelt hatte, wie er es getan hatte. Diese Geschichte habe ich in meiner Stadt Kalanswa allen erzählt, weil sie meiner Meinung nach die österreichische kulturelle Identität verdeutlicht. Ich meine, dass wir arabische Israelis aus zwei Gründen so ein Verhalten auch annehmen sollten:
1. Die islamische Kultur schreibt dieses Verhalten vor.
2. Wir müssen uns immer aufrecht und ehrlich verhalten, um die Meinung zu widerlegen, dass die Araber und Muslime ein primitives und ungebildetes Volk seien.

Um meine Gefühle deutlich zu machen, habe ich gleich nach unserer Rückkehr ein Gedicht geschrieben:

Acht und acht und acht
Araber, Juden und Österreicher
Wohnten in einer entlegenen, stillen Festung
Inmitten einer herrlichen Landschaft
Bei wundervollem Wetter
Machten wir zweimal Barbecue
Über Identität lernte auch ich Viel
Wir kehrten heim in unsere schwierige Realität
Und sehnen uns alle nach diesem Ausland
Und erwarten die Österreicher mit Ungeduld
Auf Wiedersehen, auf Wiedersehen

Mehr als acht Tage waren wir zusammen
Drei Kulturen und drei Religionen
Wir haben viel gelacht und viel gesungen
Und soviel frisches Wasser gab es und soviel Grün
Und trotz der Müdigkeit sagten wir
Zu allen:
I love you
Die unterschiedlichen Gepflogenheiten habe ich verinnerlicht
Ich habe gebeten, uns nicht zu unterweisen
Unser Erzvater Abraham lehrte uns die Gastfreundschaft
Die wir euch versprechen
Und wir werden der Welt zeigen
Wie man in Frieden lebt.

Othman Hateeb, Oktober 2004-11-09

From Othman Hateeb

Shalom Austria!

To Evelyn, Heidi, Elfi and all the students, especially Georg, and to the lady who took care of the kitchen and who always used to ask me to check the food and to see that it is good for the Arab kids, because she saw that I am someone who really knows about food.

I am really longing for all of you and waiting impatiently to see you all in our tiny, beautiful and tired country. This experience was a very special experience, not only for the inexperienced youngsters, but also for grown up people like me and even for Nili, who had already been living in Austria.

It was an experience that I had never had before. Even I, who am so experienced at organizing cross-cultural encounters between Jews and Arabs, participated for the first time at an encounter with a third interesting group of a different culture - the Austrians.

I have a brother who lives in Germany and who told me a lot about Austrian culture; but what I experienced myself and saw with my own eyes is more than thousand hours of theory. I think that the Austrians can be proud of their culture, and we Israeli can learn a lot from them. I would like to tell a little story which showed me that we, the Israeli, ought to learn from the Austrian culture.

Just aside the payphone from which I used to make phone calls to Israel, there was a small newspaper stand with a plastic bag, which contained the newspapers and above it a small box in which one was to put the money for each newspaper that one took out of the plastic bag. The bag was open, so that anybody could take out a newspaper even without paying for it. I was very surprised about the confidence one had into the public and decided to wait near the newspaper stand and to watch what was going to happen. I was standing not far away and really, a car was coming, and I saw a person getting out of it, going towards the newspaper stand, putting his hand into his pocket, getting a coin out of it, putting it into the box and getting himself a newspaper. After this, the person shut the plastic bag again, returned to his car and continued his way.

As I returned to the fortress, I felt great anger about our Israeli society, and particularly about the Moslem world. The Islam requires us to act exactly as the Austrian had done, but he had acted in this way for cultural, rather than religious motives. I told this story to everybody in Kalanswa, because in my opinion it demonstrates something about Austrian culture. I think that we Arab Israeli ought to act in this way for two reasons:

1. The Islam requires us to act that way.
2. We should always act in a right and honest way in order to refute the opinion that Arabs and Moslems are primitive and uneducated people.

In order to express my feelings I wrote the following poem right after coming home:

Eight and eight and eight
Arabs, Jews and Austrians
Lived in a quiet, remote fortress
In the midst of a beautiful landscape
With beautiful weather
We had two barbecues
We learned about identities
And returned home to our difficult reality
And are longing for this abroad
Awaiting the Austrians with impatience
Good bye, good bye

More than eight days we spent together
Three cultures and three religions
We had a lot of fun and sang a lot
There was so much fresh water and so much green
In spite of being tired we said
To all: I love you
I internalized the different customs
I asked not to educate us
Our father Abraham taught us hospitality
Which we promise you
We shall show the world
How to live together, in peace

Othman Hateeb, October 2004

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After the summer: Or on Identity-Peace Camp
Identity-Peace Camp was one of the greatest weeks of my life!
It influenced my life a lot, and I think I came back to Israel a whole new person.
When I first met the Austrian group, they seemed very nice but I was scared we won't be able to communicate with them because on the first day we hardly talked.
After a few days I noticed I was totally wrong and we already got to know each other and had fun being together.
The only problem was- the Arab group was a bit shy and it was a bit harder to become friends with them. I think that was because of the big difference between the Austrian and Jewish-Israeli groups' cultures, and the Arab group's culture. They are more conservative, and they had a lot of rules that were very new for us (It's forbidden for boys and girls to touch each other, they have to wear more conservative clothes etc.).
That was only one of the new things I learned at the camp. Another thing was that the Austrian culture is very similar to the Jewish-Israeli culture, and that's the reason it was so easy for the two groups to communicate. We share the same interests and hobbies.
The social aspect of the camp was very important, and I met lots of new friends I still have contact with.
But the camp wasn't only fun and games all the time; there were also many conflicts and arguments. We had discussions about the Arab-Jewish conflict, which helped me a lot to understand the conflict from the Arab's point of view. The subject of the holocaust also came up, and it was hard for the Jewish and Austrian groups.
Despite the conflicts, the three groups stayed in good relationships, and we knew we are all just the same- teenagers, who learned how to take off the national or religious identities sometimes, and just be friends.
In the end of 7 hard days of workshops, activities and rehearsals, we managed to make a big show that included dancing, singing, music playing and tried to show the parents a bit of what the Identity-Peace Camp was all about.
Saying goodbye was very hard, and when I think about it, even nowadays, I become sad, but also somehow happy, because I know I got to know a lot of new great people. At the airport everybody was hugging and crying, and it was so wonderful to see what strong bonds we made after only a week of knowing each other.
I didn't want to go back to Israel, to the terror and all of the bad things I forgot about while I was at the camp. I wanted to stay at that dream world forever. Well, I guess every good thing has an end, and Peace Camp will stay in my heart forever.

Or Gross- Jewish Israeli Group member (14.5)

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After the summer: Mor's account on peacecamp
The Peace Camp

The week I spent in Austria was one of the best weeks of my life. The Peace Camp was a once in a lifetime experience and I will never forget it. During that week I was introduced to a new culture- the Austrian culture, and got to know even better the somehow familiar culture- the Arab culture.

To my great surprise the connection between the Jewish- Israeli group and the Austrian group was immediate and the bonds we've made were very strong. By the second day of camp it seemed as if we have already known them for weeks. We found many things we had in common and had great conversations.

Unfortunatley, the connection between the Arab- Israeli group to the Austrian and Jewish group was not as good. There were a few factors that stood in the way such as the language, the tradition and the customs. There were big gaps between the cultures.

During the 10 days of camp we got to do many different activities. We went navigating through the mountains, we went swimming in the lake; we went to see a ballet and many more.
We also had political discussions about the Israeli conflict. I was very surprised to see that the Austrians knew a lot about it. I was happy to hear objective opinions about the conflict, something I'm not used to.
We also had Identity Workshops, in which we talked about our personal and group identities. We also had some creative assignments that had to do with the subject.

All in all I can say that I had a great time in Austria. This project, personally, gave me a lot. It might not be a big step towards peace, but I'm sure it touched and affected each and every one of its participants.

Mor Benor- Jewish Israeli group.

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