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.
Mar 20, 2013

Youth Encounters; Dialogue and Hope

School for Peace Youth Encounters

            It is a source of pride for those Jewish and Arab high schools in Israel that make a commitment to preparing for a four day residential encounter with “the other side” held at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam.  This winter, two groups of 55 students each worked with the issues of ignorance, stereotyping, histories and fears.  Recent (December 2012) violence between Israel and Gaza had resulted in postponement of one of the workshops.

            Two months later than planned, the Arab and Jewish students shared personal stories, experiences of discrimination, minority status, power relations, national identity, national/ civil rights and service and army service. With the guidance and support of eight Jewish and Arab facilitators, the encounter focused then on four areas: the nature of the state, education, symbols and ceremonies and historical justice and reconciliation.

            Students from  Makif Givat Brenner, Galilee School Nazareth, El Hitma School- Sakhnin don’t expect to change their world just yet, but they left the encounter with the skills to broaden their relationships and expand their vision of what’s possible. At the end, students wrote to one another; the following quote from one expresses the sentiments of many: "The meeting gave me the feeling that I want to know you more, I want to meet on a regular basis and I wanted us to act together.“ 

That sounds like a plan for the future that we can all support!

Mar 20, 2013

BinNational Schooling across the generations

third generation studying
third generation studying

Tomer’s Grandma

Tomer’s grandmother was last seen at the Primary School 15 years ago. “It was amazing, when my daughter went to school at Neve Shalom-Wahat al Salam, there were a few wooden cabins that were classrooms and today it is a beautiful campus with a gym, nursery school and playgrounds”. 

“I was born on Kibbutz Be’eri but grew up in many different places in Israel. Twenty years ago when my daughter was starting school, I wanted her to learn at NSWAS. I believed then, as I do now that if all the towns and villages in Israel were like NSWAS, and all the schools had Arabs and Jews, the conflict in the country wouldn’t exist.”

“It was important for me that (my grandson) Tomer go to school at NSWAS. A place like NSWAS which is open to thinking differently and has such deep humanistic roots will naturally produce a more humanistic education and a healthy environment. When I went to the school last month, it was so warm and welcoming to me and the students. I’m very happy Tomer learns there.  He comes home from school and reads and sings to me in Arabic and shows me all his work; for him, being together with Jews and Arab in natural.   

Next year, Tomer’s brother will start the first grade and we are waiting anxiously to hear if he will get into the school.” 

Grandma Tirza Yalon Kolton lives in Tel Aviv and a ceramicist and artist.

Dec 21, 2012

Celebrating Democracy at Oasis of Peace school

Election Day
Election Day

Democracy is an important principle for a binational primary school.  Although even adults are sometimes hard-pressed to understand what democracy means and often fail in its practice, we try to explain it to our pupils through historical example, classroom discussions and student elections. 

Israeli schools teach children about democracy by looking at historical events in which democracy has been tested.  At our school this year we focused upon the Kafr Kassem Massacre (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kafr_Qasim_massacre) and the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_Yitzhak_Rabin).

The Kafr Kassem massacre gave us a framework for looking at the position of Arab citizens in Israel then and now.  Shortly after the massacre, Arab citizens were released from military rule and the inquiry resulted in a landmark legal decision was made, according to which a soldier is obligated not to obey orders if they are manifestly illegal.

On the Rabin assassination we discussed the rules according to which democracy functions and democratic alternatives to violence.  The school gathered for a commemoration that included a slide show presentation prepared by the children and teachers, narration by students, music and movement.

At the commemoration

The children continued their study of democracy by electing a student council.  Each class elected  Arab and a Jewish representatives and then elected two student leaders for the entire school.  Before the election, the candidates mounted an election campaign based on goals and promises.  On election day a ballot box was set up in the school lobby and all the students cast their vote.  The winners were a Jewish 6th grader and an Arab 5th grader, both girls.  We wish the new student leaders success in fulfilling their campaign promises, which were to organize more special activities for the students and more events for the school.  

The winners (Roxanne and Rotem)
The winners (Roxanne and Rotem)

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