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By Rivanne Sandler.

Heart to Heart is a program that brings together young Jewish and Palestinian Israelis, first in Israel and then for three weeks at Camp Shomria, a summer lake-side sleep-away camp near Ottawa. An alumnus of the program which is now in its third year, Lina Medlij spoke to the HBT Senior School in February. Although the young people in the program all live in the vicinity of Haifa in the Wadi Ara area they lead separate lives. They have meetings from March to July before coming to Canada and their differences are immediately visible.

But in Canada, they are away from normal routines and the cocoon of families. Lina told the young people in the HBT audience that the program has made her more open-minded and ready to meet people who are different. The young people try to find out what they have in common in spite of their different cultures.

While the issues that divide them in Israel did not miraculously disappear because they were in Canada Lina, a Palestinian Israeli now has Jewish friends. She has learned to think independently and to try not to stereotype ‘the other’ but rather see her/him as an individual. Lina was very forthright about the kinds of issues young Palestinian Israelis face such as how to keep Jewish friends who serve in the Israeli army. But she wants to go on working to bring into the open what makes Jewish and Palestinian Israelis distrust each other.

This takes a lot of good intentions. The questions from the students in the audience showed they wanted to know more about Lina and what she thought about being a citizen of Israel.

The program was initiated by the HBT Israel Committee with the cooperation of the Holy Blossom Temple Director of Education Debbie Spiegel.

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