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For First Time In San Diego, Israeli And Palestinian Teens Work For Peace

Video

Israeli and Palestinian Teenagers Work for Peace

Aired 7/17/14 on KPBS News.

As conflict rages in the Middle East, 45 Israeli and Palestinian teens came together along the Mexican border to work for peace.

As conflict rages in the Middle East, 45 Israeli and Palestinian teenagers visiting the United States came together along the Mexican border Wednesday to work for peace.

Hands of Peace has been bringing young Middle Easterners to the United States for more than 11 years. This was the group's first time in San Diego.

At Border Field State Park, in the shadow of the international border fence, the teens listened to Roman Catholic priest Dermot Rodgers talk about his life growing up in Belfast, Ireland, a city divided by fences.

“Fences are symbolic, they are symbolic of other things that really separate and divide us. And they are very concrete, physically and emotionally,” he said.

One young woman talked about Americans' relationship with Mexico and compared it to how Israelis view Palestinians.

“It's easy to come into Mexico, but it's hard to come out. It's just like between Israel and Palestine,” she said. “The Americans, they live like an hour drive from the Mexicans, and they don’t know much about them or the lives they have. And it’s the same for us. I have no idea what’s going on inside of Palestine.”

None of the children in the program wanted their names used because they were afraid of being targeted when they returned home for having been in a peace program.

A Palestinian girl talked about how the latest round of violence in Gaza is affecting her.

“Back home the situation is really, really horrible. Both sides so bad. And lives are lost and people are losing so much. It's crazy how much we both lose,” she said.

But the Palestinian teen is optimistic about her region's future, saying those on this trip "have to believe in themselves and have to believe in what they do."

She said everyone need to stop saying peace is impossible "because, well, look at us."

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