The 22 participants of the Youth Encounter Human Rights program continue to meet about once a month in the binational community of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam.
The young people are now observing how human rights are implemented in institutions and in their communities. They then report and discuss their findings with the group. Later on they will meet with leaders of these institutions and communities to present their recommendations.
This year 2009/2010, the School for Peace organized five binational youth encounters with schools around Israel.
310 Jews and Arabs from 8 high schools and from a youth club in Ramla have participated in these encounters.
Among the schools were: Nazareth and Hakfar Hayarok, Sakhneen and Ayanot Yarden, Naa'ora and Brener, Almokhales and Reali.
This year, the School for Peace also focused on uni-national encounters and two of them were organized: one for Kalansawa with 41 youth and another one for Ropin College with 32 students.
Last January, we also started a Human Rights youth program for 22 Jewish and Palestinian youth from different schools and from the village of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam. This is a year-long program including 130 hours of meetings and common activities.
If funding is available, next year's goal is to organize at least 5 youth encounters and 2 uni-national encounters. There is a lot of demand from schools but insufficient funding.
The School for Peace (SFP) is currently running a one-year long course for Arab and Jewish high school students who want to become leaders in advancing human rights in their milieus. 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 learned how to identify violations of human rights in their own environment, for example in connection to disability, women, children. They also got encouraged to report about the observed violations to the major in their cities or towns.
During this first workshop the debate around human rights started, both in uni-national and in binational groups. A game was proposed in order to guarantee a free exchange of opinions: each participant had the possibility to write anonymous questions on a piece of paper. One of the participants, a very shy Jewish student, decided to take courage and raise a very delicate question directly: he asked to his peers what they will choose to do when they will be called up for military service. The following discussion gave voice to the ticklish dilemma between social and personal expectations and the awareness of the violation of human rights connected to the choice of serving as combat soldiers in the occupied territories. A girl expressed the hope that the experience in the SFP program will help her to decide how to act in the future.
Recently, the School for Peace organized two types of youth encounters in the "Oasis of Peace:" Jewish/Arab and Palestinian/Palestinian students encounters.
In October, 10 Palestinian students of Israeli citizenship met with 10 Palestinian students from Nablus in the West Bank. Together they discussed the future Palestinian State, religious matters - such as the future rights of non-Muslim citizens, the different lives that one can have on one side or the other of the border, or the status of the Palestinian minority in Israel. They also visited together the old city of Nablus. This encounter was a unique and powerful experience for both groups.
In November, the School for Peace organized a binational youth workshop with 65 Jewish and Palestinian high school students. For most, this encounter was the first opportunity they had to meet with the "other." The youth spent three days together in Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam where they could interact in formal and informal settings. Many important issues in regards to the conflict were discussed. The group was supervised by trained facilitators who could guide the diaolgue between the two groups.
The School for Peace is working to organized another few encounters this year. We are very grateful for your support which made these two possible!
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