Monday, August 31, 2009

Jew & Arab: A Jewish college student helps his Palistinian Arab friend pay for college! The World Is Changing...

Two kids meet at a camp in Maine that brings together Teens from areas of conflict.

One is Jewish.

The other Arab.

Their common desire for peace started their friendship, and years of emails and calls and visits to each other's families strengthened their connection.

So when the Arab youth got into a US college and thought he'd have to turn it down because there was no way he could afford it, his friend volunteered to help.

The Jewish teen asked family, wrote grants, and gave his own money...

And they are now BOTH attending college here in the USA.

Sound like fiction?

Even better. It's a true story!

Joseph Katona and Omar Dreidi are the guys.

Seeds Of Peace is the camp.

Now I know, right about now, you're wondering:

Um, Lee. What does this have to do with GAY teens?

And here's my answer:

Everything. If a Jewish and an Arab kid can connect, get past the stereotypes, the hatreds, the history of cruelties, and see each other for the real, 3-dimensional human beings that they are, and find more than common ground, find FRIENDSHIP, true friendship, where you put yourself out there to help the other realize their dreams...

than so too can each of us who are part of the GLBTQ community. Each of us can connect with others. Create friendships. Nurture Allies.

It is in the knowing of someone, truly knowing them, that stereotypes crumble.

Hatred is only possible when it's a vague "other." Strange. Scary.

That's why we need to be as out and open about being Gay as we can. The more people know us, and see us as real, 3-dimensional human beings that we are, they'll find common ground with us, FRIENDSHIP with us. True friendship, where we are there for each other, and help each other realize our dreams!

So let's reach out to others, to our ALLIES beyond our GLBTQ community. And let's be friends.

Joey and Omar are showing us all the way. And our world really is changing for the better!

I found out about Joey and Omar in People magazine's September 7, 2009 issue, page 86, "Heroes Among Us." And they really are!


For more info on Joey's fundraising efforts on Omar's behalf, click here.


Hannah Ruth Wilde said...

Dear Lee, I am working very diligently with an organization called Salaam Shalom Educational foundation. We are supporting the first ever integrated arab-jewish Waldorf kindergarten in Israel. Thank you for your broad and enlightened views of the world. And for sharing. I agree - it's about humanity, in all the forms we are. -Hannah

eliz said...

i just want to clarify the difference between jewish and israeli (and jewish israeli). i think the story reads very differently if this is an israeli jew--which i assume it is--versus someone jewish from somewhere else in the world, where certainly there are still often intense feelings around palestine and palestinians but in a different way than in israel itself.
i think the conflation of israelis and jews happens a lot and does a disservice to the specific identities of both (and, as a blog committed to supporting people's identities, it seems important to clarify).

Joey Katona said...

Hannah, eliz, and whoever else -

My name is Joseph (Joey) Katona and the subject of Lee's post. Thanks again, Lee.

I am in fact an American Jew just so you know, eliz.

In case either of you or anyone who may know is interested in contributing to the fund, I still have about $25,000 left to raise.

Please mail all tax-deductible contributions simply made out to “Earlham College” to my address here in Virginia:

7 University Court
Charlottesville, VA 22903

The tax ID number for Earlham College is 35-0868073. People should not make any mention of me, Omar, or the scholarship fund on the check so as to ensure that they receive their tax deduction.

All the best,

Joseph Katona