A few days ago we returned home - 26 Arab, Israeli and
Austrian youths who had participated at a 10-days camp in Austria. The camp
dealt with aspects of the personal and group identity of people, with the
ability to know and respect the identity of others and offered various
workshops - art, drama, music, plastic art etc. We had also trips and tours
in the surrounding region as well as group sessions with a psychologist.
In spite of the expected conflicts which arose amongst
members of the different groups, these did not diminish the intense personal
ties which arose amongst participants, and many of the originally
stereotypes and prejudices were lessened. This was one of the most important
experiences I had in my whole life and I enjoyed (almost) every moment I
spent in Austria.
I learnt much more than I had expected, especially about
the Arab group. None of us knew how hard a burden their religion and
tradition is for them and how much it dictates their behaviour. What they
told me about themselves is the reality which they experience, and it is
quite different from the picture that television conveys about them. Also
the encounter with the Austrians was quite stunning. We are already
preparing our next encounter with them, our next trip to Austria.
In addition, a documentary film was made about the camp
and will be shown at the festival of the Jewish Film in Vienna and on a
number of television channels.
Emek Chefer High School