RAMALLAH, August 15 (JMCC) - A group of young Israeli and Palestinian activists have taken the literal approach to scaling the difficulties that have, for weeks, brought stalemate to political diplomacy between the two sides – by climbing Mont Blanc.
Backed by the Swiss NGO Coexistences, the eight young men and women scaled Europe's highest mountain after months of rigorous training as part of an initiative called Breaking the Ice, which seeks to thaw relations between ordinary Palestinians and Israelis. According to the organisers, mountaineering was chosen because it is an activity that requires a lot of trust and co-operation. Mountains, being imposing and seemingly insurmountable edifices, are also highly symbolic. This is not the first time Palestinians and Israelis have joined forces: for example, a similar group journeyed all the way to Antarctica in 2003 – but their gesture has largely been lost in the wilderness of conflict.Read
Drawing on an all together different set of symbols, sceptics may wonder whether such small-scale stunts aren't slightly futile. Do those intrepid activists have their heads so high in the clouds that they've lost sight of the conflict grinding on relentlessly in the valley below?
At this point, it may be worth asking what the young people involved took from their experience. Well, some were sceptical too, to begin with. I used to think this sort of programme romanticised the reality, and the reality is not good, admits Lobna Agbaria, a Palestinian-Israeli law student. But I live in this reality; this is the situation, so what can I do to help improve [it]? The experience of such intimate proximity also helped to reshape their perspectives. This project actually changed my political opinion, acknowledges Tomer Ketter, an Israeli postgraduate student of geophysics. Now that I have real friend.
more at The Guardian...