In Their Own Words

Raz ParnafesOne of our former CITs, who is a Jewish Israeli, gave a speech in which she discussed an act as simple as walking down the street.  An act complicated, however, by the fact that she walked with her Arab friend and by the fact that they were among Israeli soldiers. Raz, a young Jewish woman, sees these soldiers and feels protected.  Yasmeen, one of her best friends, a young Arab woman, sees them and feels fear creeping up, feels uncomfortable and scared. In the same moment in which Raz and Yasmeen display their friendship, their differences are made very clear.  Yet they make it work: through their mutual determination to understand the other, a once far-off perspective is now fathomable to each of the young women. In the video above, Yasmeen speaks of the changes she and her peers in Ultimate Peace have experienced.  Prior to her time with Ultimate Peace, peace in the Middle East had always seemed unfathomable to her; however, her experience in Ultimate Peace has given her hope that change is possible. She knows that it is up to her generation to not only embrace but to facilitate change, and she and her peers take every opportunity to push for it.

Ali AwwadAli has been a member of Ultimate Peace since the beginning.  He showed up to camp in 2010 as a young boy eager to learn a new sport, get some energy out, and as he’s said many times and which we’ll never let him forget, “for the girls.”  Now, in 2015, Ali has turned into a national team Ultimate player, and a strong advocate for cross cultural friendships and peace-building in the Middle East.  In his journey to becoming the well-spoken young man we see in this video, he has met and become close with many others – those who identify as Arab-Israeli as he does, as well as those who identify as Israeli Jews or Palestinians.  Through Ultimate Peace, he has formed relationships that rely on the common interests of sport, peace, or (of course) girls rather than culture and religion.  As you’ll see in this video, Ali recognizes that the conflict of the Middle East is more than fact: each individual on each side has a story, which cannot be invalidated. His wisdom and eloquence come from his recognition and understanding of these stories, and they are reflected in so many other young leaders of Ultimate Peace.

Yonatan Ben HaimThe transformation we have seen in Yonatan, better known by his nickname Yabi, reflects the ideals of Ultimate Peace: he has changed from a boy simply interested in summer camp to an eloquent, ambitious, independent young man with visions for a more peaceful future.  Visions, I might add, that he knows how to accomplish.  As he says in this video, when he first came to camp it was simply a camp, but now Ultimate Peace has become a part of his identity.  Last year, the remarkable young man who had begun as a shy yet spirited player, single-handedly added the community of Herzliya to Ultimate Peace. He saw that more communities were needed and he acted.  This kind of leadership is what we hope to see in the CIT program, and now a graduate, Yabi has shown nothing but growth, confidence, desire for improvement, and an undying commitment to the bettering of the organization and the region.

”You know, I think UP is going to be known all around the world in the next few years for doing something that no one else is doing, because it really, really works.”
– Amir Barkan, Age 13