Seeds of Peace
Seeds of Peace is a peacebuilding
Peacebuilding is a term used within the international development community to describe the processes and activities involved in resolving violent conflict and establishing a sustainable peace....

 youth organization based in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. It was founded in 1993. As its main program, the organization brings youth from areas of conflict to its international camp in Maine. It also provides regional programming to support Seeds of Peace graduates, known as Seeds, once they return home. Its mission is to empower youth from conflict regions to work for a better future.


Seeds of Peace began as an idea of the American journalist John Wallach
John Wallach
John Wallach was an American journalist, author and editor as well as founder of Seeds of Peace international camp in Maine. He was a 1964 graduate of Middlebury College, where he gave the 1999 commencement address. In 2001, Wallach also gave a special address to a joint session of the Maine...

. At a state dinner
State dinner
A state dinner is a dinner or banquet paid by a government and hosted by a head of state in his or her official residence in order to renew and celebrate diplomatic ties between the host country and the country of a foreign head of state or head of government who was issued an invitation. In many...

 with politicians from Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, and the Palestinian Authority, Wallach toasted them, then inspired them to pledge to bring 15 youngsters from each of their respective countries to a new camp he was founding in Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

. These 48, including 3 Americans, ranging in age from 13 to 18, comprised the first session of the Seeds of Peace International Camp, founded on the site of the former Camp Powhatan in Otisfield, Maine
Otisfield, Maine
Otisfield is a town in Oxford County, Maine, United States. The population was 1,560 at the 2000 census. Otisfield is a summer recreation area and home to Seeds of Peace Camp and Camp Arcadia.-History:...


The campers from 1993 were later present in the signing ceremony of the Declaration of Principles (better known as the Oslo Accords
Oslo Accords
The Oslo Accords, officially called the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements or Declaration of Principles , was an attempt to resolve the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict...

) in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
Yitzhak Rabin
' was an Israeli politician, statesman and general. He was the fifth Prime Minister of Israel, serving two terms in office, 1974–77 and 1992 until his assassination in 1995....

, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres
GCMG is the ninth President of the State of Israel. Peres served twice as the eighth Prime Minister of Israel and once as Interim Prime Minister, and has been a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years...

 and PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat were photographed holding Seeds of Peace T-shirts. This turn of events enabled the organization to grow rapidly in the years after Oslo.

Since its inauguration in 1993, the International Camp has produced over 4,000 Seed graduates. In addition to the original countries, there are now graduated Seeds from Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

, Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, India, Pakistan, Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
Northern Cyprus or North Cyprus , officially the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus , is a self-declared state that comprises the northeastern part of the island of Cyprus...

/Republic of Cyprus), and the Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

. The Balkan programs (Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

, the Republic of Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

, Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

, and Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

) and the Cyprus program (Turkish Republic of Cyprus, Republic of Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey) have been discontinued.


John Wallach's vision focused on leaders of the next generation—on Seeds who will one day be in positions of power. In the first years of the camp, it became clear that to realize this vision the organization needed the support of people in the regions of conflict in positions of power now. This need to establish legitimacy on the ground at home inspired the creation of the Delegation Leaders Program. Delegation Leaders are educators from the countries in conflict; they take part in the selection and orientation of Seeds at home. They accompany the Seeds to and from camp. At the camp, they are they eyes and ears of the parents, of their communities; at the same time, they engage in an intense encounter experience of their own. After camp, they are invited to join the growing circles of support for Seeds of Peace.

These many years of conflict resolution programming has produced an impressive cadre of Seeds working in international affairs, politics, business, medicine, nonprofit and media. Headquartered in New York City, Seeds of Peace has offices in Amman, Cairo, Gaza, Jerusalem, Kabul, Lahore, Mumbai, Otisfield, Ramallah, Tel Aviv and Washington, D.C.

While at camp, participants speak English, the common language of the camp, in order to open the lines of communication between national and ethnic groups. Campers are actively discouraged from speaking their native tongue unless told to do so by the staff, or during individual delegation meetings.

Camp is the potential beginning of a long process, of relationships that grow. The adjustment to life at home after camp can be difficult, especially when the political conditions are less than encouraging. To aid in this transition, the organization supports returning Seeds with year-round programming, including dialogue sessions, cross-cultural visits, educational and leadership development workshops and outreach events. These activities work to sustain the relationships and ideals developed in the International Camp, supporting the Seeds' lifelong commitments to sustaining promoting dialogue and understanding in their home regions.

In 2001, Seeds of Peace expanded to South Asia. Seeds in this region are active leaders through various programs that bring together conflicting sides from Afghanistan, India and Pakistan.

Asel Asleh

On October 2, 2000, Asel Asleh, an Arab citizen of Israel
Arab citizens of Israel
Arab citizens of Israel refers to citizens of Israel who are not Jewish, and whose cultural and linguistic heritage or ethnic identity is Arab....

 and graduate of the program, was killed by Israeli security forces during a demonstration. He was wearing the Seeds of Peace t-shirt at the time of the shooting and was subsequently buried in a Seeds of Peace t-shirt.


John Wallach
John Wallach
John Wallach was an American journalist, author and editor as well as founder of Seeds of Peace international camp in Maine. He was a 1964 graduate of Middlebury College, where he gave the 1999 commencement address. In 2001, Wallach also gave a special address to a joint session of the Maine...

, the founder of the organization, also served as its president until his death in 2002. He was succeeded by former State Department
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

 official Aaron David Miller
Aaron David Miller
Aaron David Miller is an American Middle East analyst, author, and negotiator. He is on the U.S. Advisory Council of Israel Policy Forum, is Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, and has been an advisor to six Secretaries of State. Miller worked within the United States Department...

, who left the job early in 2006. Later, Janet Wallach, wife of John Wallach, was named president emeritus
Emeritus is a post-positive adjective that is used to designate a retired professor, bishop, or other professional or as a title. The female equivalent emerita is also sometimes used.-History:...

 and Steven Flanders served for a time as the executive officer in charge. Starting in the spring of 2007, Nicolla Hewitt served briefly as President, until her departure in 2008. In the fall of 2009, the organization announced a new Executive Director, Leslie Adelson Lewin.

Seeds of Peace maintains a strict policy of remaining apolitical. This is essential in order to create the safe environment for individuals to express their ideas and opinions. Seeds of Peace activities are funded mainly by donations, with specific activities receiving earmarked funds from governments and large philanthropies. In September 2009, the organization successfully completed a set of USAID funded programs.


The organization's U.S. headquarters is located in New York City.

Seeds of Peace also has opened central offices in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

 and Ramallah
Ramallah is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank located 10 kilometers north of Jerusalem, adjacent to al-Bireh. It currently serves as the de facto administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority...

 and smaller offices in Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

, Amman
Amman is the capital of Jordan. It is the country's political, cultural and commercial centre and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The Greater Amman area has a population of 2,842,629 as of 2010. The population of Amman is expected to jump from 2.8 million to almost...

, Lahore, Mumbai and Kabul. With the support of Seeds of Peace staff, and growing networks of older "Seeds," Delegation Leaders and parents, the young graduates of the International Camp continue activities, across borders, and within their own communities. Programs for older Seeds—people in their twenties—are expanding as the organization meets the needs of Seeds moving through new phases of life. There are continuing programs for Delegation Leaders and parents working to support the mission of Seeds of Peace. In the summer of 2009, for the very first time, a Seed returned to camp as a Delegation Leader.

The Olive Branch

The organization's graduates publish a magazine, The Olive Branch
The Olive Branch
The Olive Branch is a magazine written and edited by youth from Seeds of Peace from around the world. It chronicles issues relating to and events concerning youth in conflict areas such as Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan, among many others. It is generally published 2-3 times in...

, that sums up their activities over a period of several months (see During 2008 and 2009, Delegation Leaders and other educators involved with Seeds of Peace published four issues of "The Olive Branch Teacher's Guide," which presents the best practices, the reflections, the tools, for encouraging the values and skills embodied by Seeds of Peace (see

Life after camp

Approximately 350 new seeds graduate from Seeds of Peace every year. After camp, there are follow up programs back home. Until 2006, there was a "Center" in Jerusalem. Due to the increasingly difficult geography of conflict, the checkpoints, the permissions required, Seeds of Peace closed down the Center and opened two offices, one in Ramallah and one in Tel Aviv. Egyptian and Jordanian Seeds and Delegation Leaders meet regularly. Meanwhile, Indian and Pakistani (and, to a lesser extent, Afghani) delegations continue projects together. They visit with one another, even during difficult times, when the conflict between their countries flares up.

The follow-up programs have changed over the years in response to the changing political conditions. In the aftermath of the Second Intifada and the stalled peace process, there is a growing understanding of the need to balance cross-border programs with programs in the communities, programs that focus on leadership and civic engagement, and giving back to the community. There is also a growing awareness of the need to enlarge the circles of support in the communities.

See also

  • MEET - Middle East Education through Technology
  • Adam Shapiro
    Adam Shapiro
    Adam Shapiro is an American co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement , a pro-Palestinian organization, the stated mission of which is to bring civilians from around the world to resist nonviolently the Israeli occupation of West Bank and previously the Gaza Strip...

  • Huwaida Arraf
    Huwaida Arraf
    Huwaida Arraf is a Palestinian Christian human rights activist, lawyer and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement , a Palestinian-led organization focused on assisting the Palestinian side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict using non-violent protests...


External links

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