Article Title: A “REVIEW” OF THE BOOK 'Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak'
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Craig is currently compiling an e-book on stories from Palestinian and Israeli children - stories of their fears, aspirations, hopes and dreams. In short, stories of hope in the future.
And as he "writes" is putting up extracts on his blogs at and palestinian andisraelichildrensorories of
Whilst the "mission" appears to be impossible, many tiny steps by many "ordinary" people CAN and do perhaps make a difference.
Anyway enjoy...

A “REVIEW” OF THE BOOK 'Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak'


Deborah Ellis (Author)


Deborah Ellis's enormously popular Breadwinner trilogy recounted the experiences of children living in Afghanistan; now Ellis turns her attention to the young people of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After visiting the region to conduct interviews, she presents their stories here in their own words. Twelve-year-old Nora, eleven-year-old Mohammad, and many others speak directly about their lives, which prove to be both ordinary and extraordinary: They argue with their siblings. They hate spinach. They have wishes for the future. Yet they have also seen their homes destroyed and families killed, and live amidst constant upheaval and violence.

This simple, telling book allows young readers everywhere to see that the children caught in this conflict are just like them - but living far more difficult and dangerous lives. Without taking sides, it presents an unblinking portrait of children victimized by the endless struggle around them.


'Three Wishes: Palestinians and Israeli Children Speak'

Deborah Ellis begins her scrupulously balanced book by expressing a genuine concern for the plight of civilians, especially children caught in situations of war. She states what UNICEF and others have already amply documented, namely, that in World War I, 15 percent of all casualties were civilians. In World War II, 50 percent of all casualties were civilians. In 2004, 90 percent of casualties in war are civilians. Ellis is concerned with the casualties of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She points out that between September 29, 2000, when the second Intifada, or Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation, began, and March 7, 2003, 3,399 people were killed. Of these, 429 were children under the age of eighteen. She then lists their names.

Ellis provides a framework and a context that enables the reader to situate the interviews with the children. She briefly explains the history of the conflict and provides the arguments as seen by Israelis and by Palestinians. Both narratives are therefore provided. The reader will also understand what a Jewish settlement is, how some roads are for Jews only and how Palestinians are controlled by a system of roadblocks and checkpoints.

One hears the voices of Palestinian and Israeli children and one is able to enter into a world that is bound by fear, anxiety and sometimes despair. Yet one also sees glimmers of hope and possibilities of a better life.

What we learn by reading these accounts is at times shocking to the point where I think every Arab and Israeli politician should be required to read the book, if only to finally realize what kind of world they are creating for their children. We learn for instance that there is absolutely no contact between Palestinian and Israeli children. One fifteen-year-old Israeli youngster, a recent immigrant from Russia, says, 'I know a little bit about the Palestinians from the news. It seems they all hate us, but I don't know why. I have not met any yet. It is impossible for us to meet. We are separate people' (p. 23). An eleven-year-old Palestinian says, 'I don't know any Israeli children. I don't want to know any. They hate me and I hate them' (p. 50). Merav, a thirteen-year-old Israeli who lives in a settlement (which means a place built for Jews only on confiscated Arab land in the heart of the occupied West Bank) has this to say: 'I don't know any Palestinian children. They are all around the outside of my settlement, but I don't know any of them. I have no reason to meet them. They are dangerous and will shoot me if they get the chance. The Israeli army keeps them away from us' (p. 67-68).

Usually, the only Israelis that Palestinian children see are the soldiers. Here is a twelve-year-old Palestinian child speaking: 'There are a lot of soldiers where I live. They watch us all the time. We can't do anything without being watched by them. They carry guns, and they give me nightmares. We would like them to go away, but they don't care about what we want' (p. 25).

It is interesting to note how heavily socialized Israeli children are: nearly all mention school field trips to the Yad Vashem holocaust museum, boy scout activities, one child mentions a visit to Poland "to see for ourselves what happened to the Jews during the war" (p. 29) and army service. It is also quite interesting to see how propaganda themes and anti-Arab images filter down to children. Here is an example from an eighteen-year-old in a Jewish settlement north of Jerusalem: 'We, the Israelis have been trying, but how much can we give? After all, this is our land. I wish all the Jews in the world would come to Israel, and that all the Palestinians would leave and go live in some other Arab country' (p. 76).

By contrast, Palestinian children do not seem to undergo such a thick process of socialization. They appear to be influenced more by the texts of everyday life, what they see around them. Here is an eighteen-year-old, who lives in a refugee camp near Ramallah: 'A lot of people die in this camp. The Israelis shoot missiles at us. Not long ago, a missile hit a car and killed a woman and her three children. Two other women were killed by a land mine. Lots of people die here' (p. 79). The boy has been in a wheelchair for the past few years, not because of any injury, but because 'he was frightened by the soldiers a few years ago, he became unable to move his legs and one of his arms. He hasn't walked since' (p. 79). To her credit, Deborah Ellis points out that many Palestinian children have suffered what we call post traumatic stress syndrome, a widespread phenomenon that has received little acknowledgment or attention. Those who live in refugee camps have suffered the most, because that is where the Israeli army focuses its most intense assaults. The symptoms include listlessness, inability to concentrate, bed-wetting, aggressive behaviour, insomnia and nightmares.

Israeli children who have come into contact with Palestinian children tend to see things somewhat differently. Here is a fifteen-year-old who lives in Jerusalem: 'I used to take an art class with Palestinian children. I was eleven years old. It was no big deal. They were just kids doing art, same as me. We didn't fight, because they were Palestinian and I am an Israeli. We were just kids doing art' (p. 96). This young man notes, 'I don t think we'll ever get out of this situation unless we give the Palestinians their own state. It's the only way to make peace. Everyone will have to give up a little of what they want in order to get some of what they want. We're both here. Neither of us is going to go away' (p. 98).

Some of their wishes are touching indeed. Nearly all wish for the fighting to end. A fourteen-year-old Palestinian girl says, 'I wish the fighting would end, so that we can just make music and have fun and not hate each other. Maybe we could even make music with the Israelis one day' (p. 62). One sixteen-year-old Israeli says: 'My three wishes? I have just one. I want the war to end, so I can keep living in Israel and raise my children here' (p. 33).




'Promises' presents a powerful portrait of seven Palestinian and Israeli children who live in and around Jerusalem. As filmmaker B.Z. Goldberg, who was raised in Israel, notes, They live no more than 20 minutes from each other, but they are each growing up in very separate worlds. The children include Mahmoud, Shlomo, Sanabel, Faraj, Moishe, and twins Yarko and Daniel.

With the exception of the latter, all are religious (the twins are the grandchildren of a Holocaust survivor). Most have strong political beliefs and have seen their share of tragedy. Faraj's friend was killed in front of him, but as the film makes clear, they're also kids.

They like to watch TV, hold burping contests, and compete in sports (Faraj is a runner, Yarko and Daniel play volleyball). Promises doesn't attempt to explain them, but lets the kids speak for themselves. The results are funny, sad, and ultimately quite profound.

If you believe in your heart that, despite every hurdle, peace is possible between the Israelis and Palestinians, this film will fill you with hope and wonder. That's not to say it's rosy, the children depicted in the film often exhibit anger and intolerance; but the mere act of recognition between the children of these two warring groups is enough to inspire faith in their futures. This film is a beautiful document of a precious, brave and tenuous experiment on the part of the filmmakers. May we all have the courage to try to guide the next generation into a more peaceful, more understanding world.

Watch the full documentary now.

"It's kinda fun attempting the impossible."
- Walt Disney

"Things appear impossible...
until they get done."
- Nelson Mandela
Shared by craig ("Information and Inspiration Distributer")

"There is neither east nor west, tribe nor ethnicity, male or female, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist. Christian nor Jew. There is only a God-filled humanity."

"Let each one of us build bridges rather than barriers, openness rather than walls. Let us look at distant horizons together in a spirit of acceptance, helpfulness, co-operation and peace. Let our leaders look at the future with a vision to see things not as they are, but what they could one day become. Rather than borders, let us look at distant horizons the common spirit of the value and dignity of a shared personhood our common humanity as citizens of planet earth."

- craig

"First steps on the path to peace begins with talking, which leads to some
understanding... which then leads to negotiation.. which leads to eventual
- craig (as inspired by the words of Amy Biehl)

"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask 'why'? I dream of things that never were, and ask 'why not'?"

~Robert F. Kennedy

"Few (of us) will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man (or woman) stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, (she or) he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
— the powerful and greatly inspiring words of Robert F. Kennedy (with my little insertions in brackets)

“Together, one mind, one life at a time, let’s plant the seeds, the hope for a better and brighter future.”



Give us forgiveness for the past, strength for today… and hope for the future.
"Instead of the limits of borders (of countries and of our minds) let us and our leaders expand our sense of possibility... and together let's look at building bridges to distant horizons, far and great. Lord, help us all lift our eyes a little higher."

- craig

Author's Bio: 

About the Submitter

In his various writings Craig strives in some small way to break down social, cultural, religious and economic barriers through “planting, then sowing ideas as ‘seeds of hope’”. He believes that whilst we should celebrate our differences, what we share is way more important than what divides us. Craig’s new work ‘A New Dawn’ is set in the Middle East: To attempt to find ‘common ground’/principles between different religions and cultures and to try to make some difference in building bridges in an ever more dangerous, turbulent and uncertain world. “A passionate story of inspiration: hope, faith, peace and especially love.”
The various books that Craig "felt inspired to write" are available at and

The submitter’s blogs (with extracts from his various writings: articles, books and new manuscripts) are at

"The world’s smallest and most exclusive bookstore”

“Together, one mind, one life at a time, let’s plant the seeds, the hope for a better and brighter future.”