A group of Israelis and Palestinians aim to prove that the two communities can work together – by staging a joint expedition to Antarctica. The project – called “Breaking The Ice” – will take the eight-member team from Patagonia in southern Chile to the top of an unnamed peak where the delegation will plant Israeli and Palestinian flags and name the mountain. Upon ISRAEL21c’s initiative, AP, both in Israel and in Santiago, Chile ran stories as the expedition set sail on January 1, which were picked up by hundreds of newspapers around the U.S.
ISRAELIS, PALESTINIANS LAUNCH EXPEDITION
Sun Dec 28
By LAURIE COPANS, Associated Press Writer
JERUSALEM – A group of eight Palestinians and Israelis embarked Saturday on a 35-day sea and land expedition to Antarctica, pledging to forge strong bonds despite ongoing hostilities between their peoples.
The group of four Arabs and four Jews will climb an unnamed and unexplored mountain near the Bruce Plateau in Antarctica, after sailing 600 miles across treacherous seas from southern Chile. Their expedition is being called “Breaking the Ice.”
The goal is to build immense trust between the team members by giving them a common goal that will put them in life and death situations.
“I’m not naive and I know we are not going to change the world or bring peace,” said Doron Erel, a professional mountain climber and one of the initiators of the project. “We are going to be together … in very difficult conditions and we will have to protect each other with ropes on the ice.”
The team includes a Palestinian who served three years in Israeli jails for attacking Israeli soldiers with firebombs and an Ethiopian-born woman who trekked across the wilderness of Sudan at the age of 14 to immigrate to Israel.
The team members hugged each other in excitement as they met at Israel’s international airport near Tel Aviv, posing for a picture with relatives who came to see them off.
Erel unfurled a team banner depicting two doves flying near Israeli and Palestinian flags.
“I think in a way, by this expedition we are drawing the attention of the whole world that the two people … can make peace by themselves before the leaders can sit together and make peace,” said Ziad Darwish, a Palestinian journalist, as he prepared to depart.
Palestinians and Israelis have been locked in bitter fighting for three years.
Leaders from both sides have been resistant to implement the U.S.-backed “road map” peace plan, which calls for a cessation of Israeli settlement activity in occupied areas, a halt to Palestinian violence and the formation of an independent Palestinian state by 2005.
The team will set sail from Patagonia in southern Chile, navigating through the Drake Passage and will anchor off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, an area rich in wildlife such as whales, sea lions and penguins.
The group will name a previously unclimbed mountain in a ceremony at its peak.
The expedition is sponsored by Israel’s Peres Center for Peace. The project includes the making of a documentary film to be completed by the summer of 2004.