Members of the community kicked off the Ten Thousand Kites Project on Saturday, March 5th. Participants came together Saturday to celebrate Israeli and Palestinian cultures as they made plans to raise money for the project.
According to their website, the organization was set up in order to raise the $250,000 necessary for Israelis and Palestinians to fly 10,000 kites in spring 2005 in more than 50 locations on both sides of the 36-foot high, 500-kilometer long wall that separates Israel from the West Bank.
"In the lands of the Israelis and the Palestinians in April, they're going to be kites flown over the wall that separates those people as a way of speaking to the world that [there are] people there, especially children, want to live in peace," says Lee Willis, a project participant.
While kites are flown by Palestinians and Israelis on each side of the Wall of Separation on April 27th, local Charlottesville residents will also be flying peace kites in solidarity with those abroad that will be expressing their desire for peace.
Kite flying is a popular Middle Eastern pastime seen by many as an appropriate way to communicate a longing for change.
Global Affairs Columnist Helena Cobban described kite flying as "a wonderful expression for human freedom, hope and change."
Participants say they are excited to be apart of the project.
"This is the beginning of creating new rituals of peace to replace the rituals of violence that have pretty much dominated the area," said Yael Samuel, the Executive Director of the Ten Thousand Kites Project.
The project participants realize that this event alone will not solve the conflict in the Middle East, but say they're hopeful because it's a step in the right direction
"I think this is something that progressive people, like myself, have been searching for," said Sarah Lanzman.
"There are some windows opening for reconciliation and that's why it's particularly important now to support in every way we can," commented Willis.
For more information on the project, visit www.10000kites.org.