The symbolism cannot be lost on the world. This past Wednesday, August 4, a team of 8 young Israeli and Palestinian students succeeded in ascending the famous mountain Mont Blanc in the Alps. Once at the top, they unfurled a banner made up of their respective flags both covered with the image of a dove of peace.
This ascent was organized by an organization called Coexistences which works to encourage dialogue and mutual understanding between the Israelis and Palestinians. The president of Coexistences was quoted as saying that the Middle East does not need political militancy which merely contributes to the conflict. One of the Palestinian students admitted that before this project, she believed there was no point in talking with the Israelis before there was an end to the occupation of Palestinian territories. One of the Jewish climbers said making friends in this group of climbers has changed his political opinion.
The question now is how this experience will change not just the participants, but others in both the Israeli and Palestinian camps. Massimo Sandri, president of Coexistences went on to say, “We have to go beyond stereotypes and the polarisation of the conflict between one side and the other.” The students spoke of how the experience of each other’s respective worlds is unknown: the Palestinian experience is not taught to Israelis; the Israeli experience is not taught to Palestinians. Understanding and trust are important components of peace and can only be developed through dialogue.
Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps rising 4,810 metres or 15,782 ft. above sea level.
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