American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam

The American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat Al-Salam encourages, supports and publicizes the projects of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, the "Oasis of Peace." For more than thirty years, Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam has been dedicated to dialogue, cooperation and a genuine and durable peace between Arabs and Jews, Palestinians and Israelis. Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel have chosen to live and work together as equals in this community to promote trust, understanding and mutual respect.
Feb 25, 2014

How the 6th Graders Understand Their World

Primary School 6th-Graders
Primary School 6th-Graders

Teachers like Reem Nashef help make the Primary School at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam a one-of-a-kind institution. A 14-year resident of the Village, Reem’s own children graduated from the Primary School. And while she works full-time at the school — she’s responsible for the 6th-grade class, and she’s also the school’s science and environment teacher — Reem is working toward her own master’s degree in education. She speaks Hebrew, Arabic, German, French, and English.

Reem is especially proud of her current crop of sixth graders, whom she also taught last year. She reports that, this year, they are more focused, more aware of what they want, and their ideas and opinions about life have crystallized.

One of the ways this happens at the NSWAS Primary School is through projects like the “history line,” in which students examine, first, what was happening personally in their lives at various periods. Then they look at what was happening in their community, region, and the world at those same times. The project demands a high level of discipline as these young people independently research and investigate these parallel histories.

There are 12 Jewish and 9 Arab children in the class. Reem Nashef describes them as strong minded and individualistic. It’s because of accomplished and ambitious role models like Reem that this year’s 6th graders will continue to thrive as they become young adults.

Feb 25, 2014

Anthem for Peace: The Most Productive Workshop Yet

The Dabke Dance
The Dabke Dance

The latest Youth Encounter Workshop, which took place over three days last December, was a dynamic, lively, and inspiring meeting of 62 Arab and Jewish high-school students. It was the most successful youth workshop yet in this keystone program of the School for Peace at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam. 

30 Arab and 32 Jewish participants engaged in open dialogue, games, and simulations designed to make each group more aware of how the other group lives, how they see themselves, and how they are seen by each other.

The first day was devoted to getting to know one another in the three small groups. The students discovered that they have much in common. The atmosphere was one of positive curiosity. For many of the youth, it was the first encounter with the “other.” 

It was on the third day that the political dialogue began in earnest. Much of the session consisted of individuals from each group sharing personal stories. These candid dialogues can sometimes be uncomfortable, but in the end, each group felt stronger and wiser for having spoken their minds and hearts. 

And, when it was all over, the Palestinian youth taught the Jewish youth the Dabke, a traditional Arab folk dance (pictured above). 

As one of the Arab participants told us later, “The encounter was important to both sides. [The Jewish group] listened to us and we listened to them. We had arguments, but it is natural. The encounter was a wonderful idea we learned a lot. We want peace, independence, and equality.”

It’s through such dialogue — an essential component of the Youth Encounter Workshops — that participants generate forward-thinking ideas that are designed to stimulate more dialogue. This group put forth the idea that at official ceremonies and events, three national anthems be played: one Jewish, one Palestinian, and a common anthem about equality. 

As one Jewish participant said later, “I had an amazing experience that I will not forget. The dialogue caused me to understand that the situation is not simple at all, but I understood much better your situation. I hope a day will come when coexistence will be possible and we will reach a compromise and peace.”

Jan 22, 2014

Why 2013 Was a Landmark Year for Massa-Massar

Massa-Massar in 2013
Massa-Massar in 2013

We changed the world in 2013.

The Massa-Massar youth leadership program enjoyed its most productive, most robust, most far-reaching year yet. And with the help of collaborators across the world, we made Massa-Massar a fixture in the program of peace-building activities centered in Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, the Oasis of Peace.

Massa-Massar is a visionary endeavor conceived and designed at the Pluralstic Spiritual Center at NSWAS. We were so pleased in 2013 to welcome our friends at the Sulha Peace Project as they joined in the efforts to expand Massa-Massar’s reach and activities.

Among these activities were a visit by 32 Israeli and Palestinian teens to the Eco-Me Center for an Ecological Middle East; a 10-day seminar in Luzerne, Switzerland, that included a “tribal fire” in which Swiss children also participated; and specially designed tours of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem.

The participants in Massa-Massar have given us inspiring feedback: "We have to come together to strengthen our connections," said one participant, "and understand that everyone is a person, everyone is worthy.”

“It’s really opened my eyes to another perspective,” another participant told us.

Massa-Massar’s efforts to facilitate dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian teens — and to encourage them to facilitate similar dialogue in the leadership roles they will take on in the future — will and must expand in 2014.

Gifts from our friends in the Global Giving community will allow us to increase the time span of our programs and workshops; add more of them to our calendar year; and bring in more facilitators and participants. Your gift directly contributes to a more peaceful Middle East.

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