Who is your enemy? How do you know? Why do you think so? Do you believe you're taught to hate-- as the famous Rodgers and Hammerstein song from South Pacific says, "Before it's too late: to hate all the people your relatives hate, you've got to be carefully taught?" Do you learn to hate in schools? From your families? From the media?

Seeds of Peace
Some students had an unusual experience to seek answers to these questions: young adults from areas of the world "at war" or "nearly at war" with neighboring areas. A program called Seeds of Peace sponsors opportunities for young people to come together for a stay at a camp in Maine during which time they have the opportunity of meeting and getting to know other young adults from those "enemy" nations they have learned about and to test their perceptions and learning against the reality of meeting a live person.

The main focus of Seeds of Peace is the Arab-Israeli conflict.

This lesson will engage students in reading reflective essays from students who have participated in the Seeds of Peace experience.

Student Objectives:

  1. gain a better understanding of the experiences of young people growing up in an area at war
  2. analyze some of the changes of students who have gone through the experience of the Seeds of Peace program
  3. critically examine why enemy imaging continues and who stands to benefit from the practice. How many students take part in this experience? How can they change the attitudes of people who do not have the same experience?
  4. locate and support efforts which bring together opposing sides in a conflict for purposes of reconciliation

Correlation to national standards


  1. Teachers might wish to begin this lesson with a discussion of the Introductory paragraph. Ask students to relate these questions to their own personal lives and experiences. How might these compare with experiences of students who have lived through war in other world areas?
  2. Discuss or review the background to the Israel/Palestine conflict (See the Online NewsHour Special Report for more background information). Have the students read the NewsHour Extra article on the "road map to peace"
  3. Divide students into three random groups. Introduce information about the Seeds of Peace Project.

    Make copies of the speeches by Ma'ayan, a 17 year old Israeli young woman from the city of Kfar Saba, who attended the Seeds of Peace Camp during the summers 2000 through 2002; Muhammed, a 17 year old young Palestinian man from Gaza City, who was part of the 2000 summer program; and Tarek, a 17 year old Arab-Israeli from the village of Jatt who attended the Seeds of Peace Camp during the summers 2000 through 2002. (For more readings by Seeds of Peace alumni see the Seeds of Peace magazine The Olive Branch.)

    Give each group one essay to read. They will then share what they've read with the rest of the class.

    Discuss the changes in viewpoints of these three students due to their experience in Maine.
  4. What conditions are necessary in order for the "road map" to succeed? From the insights of Seeds of Peace participants, what might be a list of actions that would assist the peace process. How could the Media be involved? What other organizations might lend support to dialogues of peace? Follow current news stories coming out of the Middle East. Write letters of encouragement to those assisting with the peace process.
Homework/Extension Activities:

  1. Students might wish to learn and study more about the concept of restorative justice implemented by the Truth and Reconciliation Committee of the Republic of South Africa at the end of the apartheid era. This process of restorative rather than retributive justice was made famous by Bishop Desmond Tutu. Desmond Tutu, the Commission's Director. He has clarified that retributive justice leads to a punishment in accord with the action; restorative justice moves on to forgiveness, a giving back to a healthy state that which has been lost by restoring, rebuilding and reconstructing. How might the South African experience benefit the Israelis and Palestinians?
  2. Conflict resolution is a process which needs to be understood at the personal level and incorporated into one's daily actions. Search for local persons involved in mediation and programs in conflict resolution. Invite a speaker to class to learn more about this topic and ways to integrate conflict resolution practices more into the school climate.
  3. Students may wish to continue their exploration of the Seeds of Peace Program by reading the alumni produced magazine The Olive Branch, which can be found online.
Correlations to National Standards:

National Council for the Social Studies:

II Time, Continuity and Change
III People, Places and Environments
IV Individual Development and Identity
VI Power, Authority and Governance
IX Global Connections
X Civic Ideals and Practice

Mid Continent Research for Education and Learning
Behavioral Studies Standard and Benchmarks:

Standard 4: understands conflict, cooperation and interdependence among individuals, groups and institutions.

1. Understands that conflict between people or groups may arise from competition over ideas, resources, power, and/or status

7. Understands that even when the majority of people in a society agree on a social decision, the minority who disagree must be protected form oppression, just as the majority may need protection against unfair retaliation from the minority.

8. Understands how various institutions have changed over time and how they further both continuity and change in societies

9. Understands how changes in social and political institutions both reflect and affect individual's career choices, values and significant actions

10. Understands that decisions of one generation both provide and limit the range of possibilities open to the next generation

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