Jan 18, 2017

Breaking the Ice

Another successful Youth Encounter workshop took place from November 29, 2016 to December 1, 2016 between students from Givat Brener and Nazareth High Schools. The three-day workshop brought sixty-one teenagers together at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam to talk to each other. It seems so simple, but bringing Jewish and Palestinian teenagers together is anything but simple.

                Opportunities for the two groups to come together, as equals, do not exist in their world. Education is segregated, even in the mixed cities. Through these workshops, teens have the chance to discover commonalities, learn about each other’s culture and dispel mistruths and misconceptions.

                It is truly inspiring to see their curiosity about each other lead to a serious commitment to bridging the gap between their worlds, especially during these times of bloodshed and conflict. Guided by experienced facilitators, the two groups of teens navigated their way from unknown antagonists to friendly allies.

Facilitators-in-training observed this encounter to analyze the dynamics of the workshop and see how the experienced facilitators engage and intervene with the teens to keep the dialogue flowing, open and constructive.  To minimize any intrusiveness and interruption, these observations are made through a one-way mirror.

Our facilitators play a key role in our success at bringing Jews and Palestinians together in a joint commitment to peace. The rigorous training program prepares them to face the many emotions, beliefs and heartbreaking or uplifting experiences that have shaped the view Palestinians and Jews of all ages have of each other.  

                Look for our next update when we report on the meeting between students from Ramat Gan and Shfaramer.

Jan 18, 2017

Report from Humanitarian Aid Committee

Wahat al Salam - Neve Shalom, was founded on the principals of equality and peace between Jews and Palestinians and for years has been developing innovative programs to advance these values in the region.


In keeping with our mission in the past years, members of WAS-NS have conducted various voluntary activities, among them: sending food and medical supplies to Gaza, providing needed medical treatment and transporting those in need of treatment to hospitals in Israel. Our programs have also helped develop NGO staff in Palestine and we have worked together in different programs and projects.


On Thursday, August 25 we were privileged to host a group of 35 children, their mothers and 3 fathers, from the village of Bil’in, Ramallah district, for a day of fun and relaxation.


Most of the mothers are single moms and work at "Threads of Change", AWC-Arab Women in the Center, a project which helps Palestinian women make a fair living through embroidery and needle point.


After obtaining for them a one day entry permit to Israel, members of of the community took a bus to the Bil’in Crossing to welcome our guests for the day and bring them to WAS-NS. The day’s events began with a visit to the Primary School, the School for Peace, the Pluralistic Spiritual Community Center and a meeting with the young people from the Nadi youth program. Besides WAS-NS, the day’s program included a visit to the Ramat Gan Zoo, and to Jaffa…. to enjoy the beach and swim in the Mediterranean before crossing back home to Bil’in.


After their tour of Wahat al Salam-Neve Shalom, the group sat together and talked with us about our original plan to have a summer camp program and the fact that Bil’in didn’t agree to send them for a long period out of fear that something bad might happen to them here. On hearing this, one of the Bil’in kids stood up and said, " What? You want to tell me that we were supposed to come to this amazing place for a longer period of time and you were worried? I can’t believe it. What is more frightening; the army and the demonstrations at the wall every week, or being here? Next year we are coming for longer!".


We’ll look forward to having them…

Jan 1, 2017

Strong desire to continue their education

The students of the Primary School at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam are trying to get your attention! They have been learning about democracy, and how organizing protests and generating awareness can lead to change in their community. Taking this lesson to heart, they surprised the school administration with a petition to expand the school to include middle school and high school. In the petition, they expressed their strong desire to continue their education, learning in peace and cooperation with their Jewish and Palestinian friends. The students know that once they graduate from the Primary School, they will not be learning in an integrated, binational setting until college because it simply does not exist.


The Primary School at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam is a school that defies categorization. It is the only school in Israel where Palestinians and Jews learn together, in each other’s language, about each other and celebrate holidays together, in peace and cooperation. It’s literally one of a kind. Unfortunately, its uniqueness is a hindrance when it comes to government funding. In Israel, there is no ideal category for a mixed status of Jewish - Palestinian school in Israel. Schools must be either "Arab" or "Jewish". In order to keep the costs of tuition fees low enough to attract diverse socio-economic groups, The Primary School has been working with the Ministry of Education to gain recognition and to carve a path to guarantee that a cooperative, binational, education will continue to be possible and accessible to students and families who seek peace and cooperation between the two peoples.


One of our current projects has been to produce a fully documented syllabus for teaching in a bilingual, binational school environment. This is a work in progress (and something that we have been working on for many years). Our goal is to introduce a semi-formal teaching framework for the various cultures, languages and national identities of the people in the region. Eventually, this will help us to spread our curricula to other schools. This year, the school staff is focusing on building a model for language education and looking at the best ways to integrate bilingual educational goals into a school’s every day life.


We are dedicated to the continuing education of Jewish and Palestinian children as equals and their dreams of a future as friends, neighbors and citizens who want to live in peace and cooperation. With your support, we can make that dream a reality.

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