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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sunday Offering #57: Palestinian/Israeli Peace Camp Wins Ben & Jerry's "Whirled Peace" Contest

Summer camp of love

Local man honored by Ben & Jerry's for Mideast peace plan

If Israelis and Palestinians would just go to summer camp together, the world would be a better place.

That's the reasoning behind San Mateo resident Robert Kent's Peace Camp Initiative. For his plan, Kent was recognized by Ben & Jerry's as a national modern-day peace pioneer.

Ben & Jerry's flew Kent to New York to accept his award at Times Square. He was introduced in a press conference by actress Maggie Gyllenhaal and was awarded $10,000 - enough money to fund his program's inaugural summer.

This summer, Kent will award scholarships to a Palestinian Christian, a Palestinian Muslim and a Jewish Israeli to fly to America and attend Camp Susquehannock in upstate Pennsylvania, where he is the program director.

"The kinds of people that are able to reach across the divide and violence are rare," Kent said. "But if those kinds of leaders don't exist now, it's about bloody time we start making them."

The peace pioneer search was part of Ben & Jerry's effort to introduce their newest ice cream flavor - "Imagine Whirled Peace" - and pay tribute to flavor inspiration John Lennon. They received more than 400 essays from all over the nation and Kent's stood out, a Ben & Jerry's spokeswoman said.

"There's something that traditional American summer camps do very well," said Kent, who has attended Susquehannock for 31 summers. He wrote an essay about it for National Public Radio's "This I believe" series, and 500 words later he reached an epiphany, he said.

"I believe that the incandescent joy of a happy child transcends every ethnic and economic distinction humankind has invented to keep us apart," he wrote. "I believe that every prejudice, every oppression, every resentment, and every misunderstanding can be cured more quickly by mixing everyone's children together, making two teams, and letting them play, than by any form of conflict resolution, court intercession or legislation we've come up with so far."

Kent, who teaches at Aikido West in Redwood City, found the scholarship recipients through a network of martial artists in the Middle East. The three coming to camp live in violently disputed border territory, he said. Well-versed in conflict management and leadership skills through their aikido experience, the students are already on their way to spreading peace in their region, Kent said.

So this summer, Kent's going to have Israelis and Palestinians playing a new kind of tug-of-war. They'll be riding horses and shooting baskets and swimming.

"The peace will sort of ripple outwards from there," he said.

And there's free ice cream for the whole camp.

Visit Robert Kent's Peace Camp Initiative website where you can make a donation to help sponsor a child

The PeaceCamp Initiative was founded with the conviction that lasting peace requires men and women who can bridge a history and habit of bitterness with bonds of friendship and trust. The program selects Jewish and Arab youth leaders, all of them participants in Budo for Peace, a special martial arts program that gives Jewish and Arab students of Karate, Judo, or Aikido the chance to train together in harmony, and brings them to a traditional camp in America. The typical residential summer camp program of team and individual sports, with a spring-fed lake, horseback riding, mountain bike trails, craft shops, climbing tower, etc. has taught boys and girls from America and all over the world tolerance and respect for others, how to deal gracefully with conflict, and a sense of fair play.

In other words, the traditional American summer camp has been teaching, for more than 100 years, exactly the lessons that forging peace requires. The Jewish and Arab youth that the PeaceCamp Initiative brings to America will experience a world without bullets and bombs, refugees and resentments. They will learn to trust and value each other as teammates, cabinmates, and friends. They will outgrow their inherited enmity.

VISIT: Budo For Peace

Read Robert Kent's post about this experience at the Daily Kos

"Ben & Jerry's partnered with the Lennon estate on the project. "It's something we're tremendously proud about -- to work with an organization devoted to peace," said Ben & Jerry's spokesman Sean Greenwood." Read further>>>>>>

VISIT: John Lennon Estate website

Video: "All We Are Saying, Is 'Imagine Whirled Peace'"

Very nice and interesting update from an email I received concerning this post. The email came from a writer on this blog, Namewire: the Product Naming Blog

The person who wrote to me wanted me to know that there are other ice cream companies who are becoming socially conscious also. In their post, "Of Bees and Whirled Peace: Ice Cream Brand Naming Gets a (Bigger) Conscience" I learned:

"Ice cream brand naming is becoming even more socially conscious. One of Häagen-Dazs' new ice cream flavors, Vanilla Honey Bee, is now firmly associated with preserving the bee population in the West, by donating a portion of the proceeds to a Penn State/University of California research initiative which is examining why so many bees are dying" (read further)

On a link from that post I learned Haagen-Daz is also a is also a sponsor of "The Vanishing of the Bees," a work-in-progress documentary that takes an investigative look at the bee crisis. You can read about this documentary in the making HERE and watch the trailer.

It's not just the human race which is suffering due to strife and war, our earth is suffering also.
I'd like to extend a big thank you to Josh for linking to this post for his own article and ALSO for sharing the information he had on his post. We're all in this together folks, it's time we all come to that realization and do all we can to improve our world. Now ice-cream companies are doing what they think they can do and I say that is FANTASTIC!

Thanks again Josh!

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