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.
May 27, 2014

Laying the Groundwork ... and Changing Lives

Bridging Gaps at the School for Peace
Bridging Gaps at the School for Peace

Not just anybody can bring Jewish and Palestinian youth together to engage in dialogue, role play, and the forming of a shared commitment to peaceful action. The Youth Encounter Workshops at require properly trained and committed facilitators.

Which is why the School for Peace runs intensive, four-month-long facilitator training programs. The most recent one came to a close in February: 15 participants (6 Arab and 9 Jewish participants) completed the course, which was led by Dr. Nava Sonnenschein, director of the School for Peace, and psychologist Wasim Birumi.

The participants attended lectures, received academic reading material, and had intense group discussions on aspects of the Jewish-Arab conflict and the role their own identities plays within it.

They also learned the skills needed for reaching out to groups in conflict through peer facilitation — the very work that is done in the Youth Encounter Workshops. During the training course, participants kept a diary on their experiences and analyzed the process they went through.

These newly trained facilitators began the course with different levels of experience in the field of conflict resolution, yet they all left with an enlarged awareness of the issues of the conflict, their own identities, and a greater skill set to drawn on when working with groups in conflict.

One Arab participant said, “The workshop clarified my own identity and belonging to my people. I am happy and proud that I made this important step in my life. Through this course, I became more knowledgeable and feel a responsibility to my people. Today I am more committed to help them strengthen their identity.”

And a Jewish participant said, “I feel the course is the beginning of a long journey. The first part has exposed me to many voices, feelings, information. I want to re-examine what I have learned and how I previous perceived the situation.  I have new eye glasses for seeing our reality in Israel. My view on the conflict between the two people has widened.”

Apr 22, 2014

Voices of Peace: How Massa-Massar Has Changed Lives

Touring the holiest sites of Jersusalem
Touring the holiest sites of Jersusalem

Since 2009, Massa-Massar: A Journey of Discovery has affected the lives — and enlarged the perspectives — of many Israeli and Palestinian teens.

With its focus on leadership, the Massa-Massar program equips its young participants with tools, and provides them with experiences, that enable them to move beyond conflict and toward mutual understanding.

Over the past five years, there have been many workshops, field trips, facilitated dialogues, and role-playing activities. The results are best described by the participants themselves:

Wahiba, a 16-year-old from Ramla, plans to study to become a diplomat when she finishes school. “When I think about everything that has happened,” she said, “I just want to cry. But there’s no point. We need to put it behind us and move forward.”

Perri, a 16-year-old from Jerusalem, felt that the weekend gave him a genuine experience of hanging out with “the other side,” having fun and being young together. He, like many of the other participants, expressed how he never receives the opportunity to meet with young people who are from “the other side.”

Yam, age 16 from Beit Hashmonai: “I’ve always celebrated Israel Independence Day without considering how Arabs feel.” An exercise in which all the participants shared their personal stories “really opened my eyes to another perspective.”

During one of the Massa-Massar tours around Jerusalem, Nicole, a 14 year old Arab teenager from Lod, described her excitement at visiting the Western Wall for the first time. She felt how special it was for the Jewish people. Nicole admitted she didn’t want to come to the workshop when she first heard about it. “I’ve had bad experiences” with people who “made me feel bad because I was Arab. I decided to come [to Massa-Massar] and it has given me a new perspective that not all Jewish people are like that. I feel much better about being Arab.”

Supporters from around the globe have made these outcomes possible. Massa-Massar will continue to change lives, to move us all closer to peace — but only with the support of friends like you.

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.

 
   

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