Their schools are just 14 miles apart, but the Israeli-Arab and Jewish students chatting in a central London hotel lobby could not have imagined they would become good friends.
“They are normal, just like us. We WhatsApp and Snapchat all the time,” laughs Noa. Sitting next to her, Adwaa agrees: “Stereotypes are unhelpful. Meeting Jewish Israelis has helped us realise we can all be friends and strive for peace.”
What unites these students is the first For Peace Prize, organised by the Arts and Culture Foundation (ACF) in London. In May, 80 Jewish and Arab 16-year-old students from the Arab New High School in Kfar Kassem and the Hayovel School in Herzliya worked together to produce artwork under the theme of ‘Together we are stronger’.
The creations were brought to London and voted on by guests, including Prince Michael of Kent. The prize, for three winning groups, was a holiday in London, visiting landmarks.
“It is a real dream to be here,” says New School’s Genat. Alongside Shenhav, of Hayovel School, the pair’s design was Prince Michael’s favourite. Featuring two interlocked arms bearing the Star of David and the Muslim crescent, with the words ‘We are nicer when we’re together in peace’, the Royal described the canvas as “simple and true”.
Maya, from Herzliya, adds: “We have our differences, but we can live, learn and cry together. Without the programme we would never have met and become friends, but I’m so happy we have.”