I live in a supposedly united city that in reality is fragmented. The average Jewish teenager in Jerusalem would not be able to name a major street in Palestinian East Jerusalem. The average Palestinian teen knows Israelis as Border Policemen in dark green uniforms. Arabic, supposedly a required third language in Jewish schools, somehow gets left out of the curriculum in many. Even where it’s taught, only a small number of kids take it long enough to be able to puzzle out a headline. Language is only a metaphor for the real chasm. Our children grow up in separate worlds.
Now for some hope:
Three years ago, my son went off to a summer camp called Face-to-Face in America. The delegation from Jerusalem included six Jewish and six Palestinian teens. There was also a delegation from Northern Ireland and one from South Africa, and a host group of American kids. They learned how to listen, how to understand that every date and every place in their history means something entirely different to people who live very near them.
There are a number of such camps (links below) that bring together Israelis and Palestinians on neutral ground. The people who run them are blessed with amazing faith: in an age of quarterly returns, they make the long-term investment of educating. If you’re young, I recommend applying. (Yes, adults have left you a broken world. Fix it.) If you have kids, get them interested.