Ultimate Peace (UP) is a groundbreaking leadership program, annually uniting 400 Arab and Jewish youth in the Middle East. Playing the self-officiated sport of Ultimate Frisbee, teens compete, resolve disputes, build trust, and bond. As young adults, program graduates like Zeinat, a 22-year-old M.D./Ph.D. Technion student, apply UP values daily. Seeing her Arab and Jewish classmates segregated, Zeinat ignited a unifying movement. As she said: "I know better from growing up in UP". More below!
There is increasing stratification, tension and mistrust between and among Arabs, Jews, and Palestinians who reside in Israel. Youth from these cultural groups rarely have the chance to interact in a meaningful or positive way. This perpetuates an unhealthy cycle of social isolation, in which prejudice, fear, and division are prevalent. Given the vast cultural/religious/social differences, sustainable peace is dependent on deep trusting relationships between people. That is our mission.
When youth from different cultures find themselves in a positive, inclusive community, they are intrigued. Instead of being afraid, they gladly explore what has been closed off. Youth let go of negative narratives they have been taught. They reach out to strangers with curiosity, compassion, and genuine humanity, often forging deep understanding and lasting friendships. Like Zeinat, many other UP graduates are changing their world - in the workplace, military, communities. We envision thousands!
IMPACT! Zeinat didn't accept Arab and Jewish students sitting on opposite sides of her university classroom and busses during field trips. One day she got up and crossed the invisible threshold - Zeinat introduced herself in Hebrew to a Jewish student and sat down. First there was shock, then action: Ramadan dinner at her home and Lag B'omer celebration at a Jewish student's home, attended by all classmates; Gold medal in Boston for a class invention; Arab/Jewish dialogue group; What's next?