Over three days from Thursday, December 16 to Saturday, December 19, a group of 25 young people, Israelis and Palestinians, gathered in the Arab~Jewish village of Wahat al-Salam~Neve Shalom for a dialogue around the theme: “partnership for change”. The purpose was to encourage the participants to find ways and create opportunities to work together for peace and justice in our region.
The activity was initiated in partnership with two other NGOs, the Sulha Peace Project and the Open House - Ramle, who also belong to the “Global Network of Religion for Children” (GNRC).
The young people, together with their facilitators and adult members of the three NGOs, took part in activities that included religious celebration and prayer belonging to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian traditions; singing of songs in Arabic and Hebrew, folklore dance and facilitated sharing circles to promote dialogue between the participants. The sharing circles enabled the young people to tell their personal stories – many of which were difficult and painful. The stories brought out the very different realities lived by Israelis and Palestinians. Yet by sharing in this way, it was possible to awaken empathy, bridge the gaps, and awaken a common yearning for peace and social justice. While the challenges remain enormous, it became possible to visualize a changed reality and discuss how to work together to realize this vision.
The venue chosen, Wahat al-Salam ~ Neve Shalom, as a village that symbolizes the possibility of an equal, shared existence between Jews and Palestinians, helped to concretize the vision. As part of the program, the group toured the various educational institutions of the village and received an explanation on these from GNRC Israel coordinator Dorit Shippin.
Twenty-two 15-17 years old Jews and Palestinians are still participating in the project. After the recruitment phase in February, they met in April during an introductory and dialogue workshop for two days. In May they had a two-day workshop in Nazareth in which they received training on human rights issues by the Arab association for Human rights and also had a field study tour in Nazareth and Natzeret Elite (Upper Nazareth).
A one-day training on Human rights issues was organized in July, followed by a dialogue and training in field work to observe the implementation of human rights in the different environments.
Since then, the participants are doing filed work, observing and reporting on Human Rights-related situations in their communities, with supervision by the project facilitators.
In October the group will meet again to share their impressions and present their reports. After the workshop, they will submit these reports to the responsible bodies in the local authorities or the responsible body for the field they have studied.
In December, they will meet a Palestinian group from the West Bank who have been doing similar work to exchange experiences and impressions.
The group is very enthusiast about their collaboration and the analysis work they are doing in the field. They convey their gratitude to the donors of GlobalGiving for their support.
This year, the Pluralistic Spiritual Center is teaming up with the School for Peace in Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam to run a new Massa-Massar program focusing on Human Rights. Nine Jews and thirteen Palestinians from different high schools (age 15-17) are participating in this program, which includes one encounter every month for 8 months. The first encounter took place on April 25-26. The participants learn how to identify violations of human rights in their own environment, for example in connection to disability, women, children. They are also encouraged to report about the observed violations to the major in their cities or towns.
In addition to meeting during encounters, the participants will also be traveling together in various places in Israel.
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Last summer, the Pluralistic Spiritual Center in cooperation with the “Open House” of Ramle organized its third “Massa-Massar: a Journey of Discovery” program. 20 participants, aged 15-17 went on a 6-day journey, starting in Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam. They visited Jerusalem while learning about human rights issues faced by Palestinians and about the problem of the Jewish settlements in Maaleh Adomim. The group continued to Jaffa and learned about the life in a mixed town, and then continued to the Galilee to hear narratives of Israelis and Palestinians from two persons: a Jewish member of Kibbutz Lohameh HaGhettaot, who was the son of Holocaust
survivors, and a Palestinian, who is a son of refugees from the village of Al-Sameria.
During the whole program, the participants had time for dialogue and reflection, including a workshop facilitated by the School for Peace in the preparation phase of the journey. With this understanding, the young people should be motivated to explore ways of action for peace and justice as they become young adults.
Support is now being raised - including thanks to GlobalGiving supporters such as you - to organize a new Journey next summer, with a new group of young Palestinians and Jews.
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