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  • U.S. dialogue camps for Israeli, Palestinian teens struggle through Gaza-Israel conflict

    Challenging process is made even more so by events in at home.

    By Debra Nussbaum Cohen for Haaretz

    Hands of PeaceNEW YORK – Traveling to beautiful seaside San Diego from Jenin or Jerusalem would ordinarily be a huge treat. But right now, for Mariam, Ayala and other Palestinian and Israeli teenagers participating in the Hands of Peace dialogue program, being far from home is excruciating.

    “It’s been a hard day for me,” 18-year-old Mariam, who is from a religious Muslim family in Jenin, in the West Bank, tells Haaretz in a Skype interview. “Reading posts on Facebook about children and people dying. My mom just called me. The fact that people are dying and no one is doing anything about it ...” Her voice trails off and she begins to cry quietly.

    Mariam’s participation in one of Hands of Peace's programs is controversial in her community. “I come from a very closed-minded society about peace programs,” says Mariam, a computer engineering major at a Nablus college. After her first experience with the program, during the summer of 2012, she was accused by relatives of being “brainwashed.” Her name and those of other participants quoted here have been changed.

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