American Children Discuss Peace in the Middle East

October 16, 2000

Source: The Denver Rocky Mountain News

On October 16, 2000, The Denver Rocky Mountain News reported that "children at Temple Emanuel in Denver had some advice for world leaders prepared to take part in Middle East peace talks today: Get over it. 'What's so great about some land,' said Erin Cohan, 11. 'You already have some.' Adults and children, at a temple and a mosque, mostly agreed that the flashpoint of the battle, Jerusalem, must be fairly divided. Many were thankful that peace talks appear to be under way, but expectations were low. 'The wound is so deep, and it's bleeding,' said Mohamad Jodeh, past president of the Colorado Muslim Society, who was at the society's mosque on South Parker Road Sunday. 'It cannot be healed' by one talk. President Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak are scheduled to meet in Egypt. In Denver, violence in the Middle East has been a topic of conversation among adults and in Sunday school classes for Muslim and Jewish children. Nathan Riechers, 10, recalled the reaction of students at temple when they discussed Middle East violence in class. 'Some of us said World War III,' was coming, Nathan said. Nathan stressed that he did not think the next world war was around the corner. He was one of the more optimistic ones. 'They'll figure out a way to share it (Jerusalem),' he said, but added, 'not overnight.' Youths at the Colorado Muslim Society said they have been following events in the Middle East through newspapers and television, especially Middle Eastern stations. Khalil Jad, 13, said it was good that the adults were sitting down to talk. He was not optimistic about immediate peace but offered a solution. 'Just leave us alone,' he said. 'Let us keep our land and our holy sites' Abeir Salaymeh, 16, also said the solution is for Muslims to have complete control over the Dome of the Rock, one of the contested holy sites in Jerusalem. She heaped blame for the current violence on the Israelis and a protest by Israeli politician Ariel Sharon. 'I believe it's all their fault,' she said. At Temple Emanuel, Steve Abelman, 43, said everyone can share in the blame, from Israeli soldiers to a Palestinian mob that killed and mutilated two Israeli soldiers. 'The Israeli army may have engaged in overreaction...,' he said before adding, 'Lynching is an animalistic response.'"