Crossing Borders
Independence Day
Seeds of Change
Life in the Crossfire
American in Israel
Kids Speak Out

Kids Speak Out
Kids in the Middle East Struggle With the Terms of Peace
by Middle East Correspondent Courtney Kealy
Special to Scholastic News

Young people on both sides of the conflict have mixed feelings about the prospects of peace.

Palestinian kids cover their faces and carry rocks through the streets of their villages as violence between Palestinians and Israelis continues.

Photo Credit: Courtney Kealy, Special to Scholastic News.
The kids pictured below live in the towns of Beit Jala and Gilo, which face each other across a rocky valley. A neighborhood of Jerusalem, Gilo is a Jewish settlement built after the 1967 war. A week before Scholastic News spoke with the kids below, unidentified Palestinian gunmen started shooting at Gilo from the Arab West Bank village of Beit Jala. Israeli soldiers responded with tanks and attack helicopters.

After a night disturbed by bursts of machine-gun fire and rockets, the children of both villages still walked to school the next day. They look much like American kids, dressed in Chicago Bulls and New York Yankees hats, carrying their books in backpacks. Most speak English, but the kids from Gilo speak Hebrew as their main language, and the kids of Beit Jala speak Arabic.

They were asked, as they hurried to school, if they believed peace was possible and what they could do to live peacefully with their neighbors.


Inshallah (God willing), I wish we were living in peace. I think there is no safety. I cannot live with someone from the other side because they are killing us. We cannot play with them because they hate us.
—Haza Meslit, 11, whose house in Beit Jala was fired on by an Israeli tank Monday night. She is pictured with her brothers and sister.

There cannot be peace. They are occupying our land and want to take our land. I could not live with them, since they are occupying our land. I wish we could all live like humans.
—Jihad Zeida, 8, Haza's neighbor in Beit Jala

They are bombing us, what kind of peace is this? They would have to give us back our al-Aqsa mosque [for peace]. I think there will never be peace. Even if there is, it will not be the kind of peace that we're asking. If we don't get real peace, let there be war. Before I thought I wouldn't mind if Jewish people lived with us, but now it is impossible. They have to return our occupied lands, release all the prisoners.
—Shadi Masalmeh, 14, Beit Jala

No one has to prove they're stronger to prove their power. If they want peace we will accept it, but they don't want peace, they want to fight. I couldn't live with someone from the other side.
—Kayan Al Selfi, 15, Beit Jala


I don't think there can be peace because of the situation now. Everything has to change. The Arabs need to be softer and to stop. We live close to Arabs, I have a few Arab neighbors as friends, so, yes, you can live with them.
—Serge Revivo, 13, Gilo

I want peace but I don't want Israel to give the Arabs Jerusalem or any more places after what they've done. I think I could live with them, but then I think what if they did something to us? We could live just fine together, but then what if they start shooting us?
—Mayan Perez, 13, Gilo

I'm scared. Arafat promised to make peace, but then he asked his people to fight. We are angry about this. Arafat must tell his people to stop fighting and must really sit down and make peace. I couldn't live with them, because I don't trust them. I saw kids of 12, 13, and 14 years old throwing stones, and with machine guns.
—Livon Uzan, 13, Gilo, with her friend Efrat Dov, 13

to Special Issues Online Main Page to 2002 Winter Olympic Games Main Page