Ten graduates of the university dialogue courses met at Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom at the end of September for two days of intensive dialogue. They were alumni of courses offered during the past two years at Ruppin Academic College, Ben Gurion University and Tel Aviv University. The participants all came from the fields of health, mental health and treatment.
The group had a tour of the village; they saw a documentary film “Tantura” (about the Nakba and a so-called “abandoned” Palestinian village) and had a discussion with the filmmaker and Teddy Katz, hero of the film; and they had a session on “political imagining,” led by the SFP staff. Despite coming together for only two days, the group managed to touch on a large range of subjects, from national identity to coping with fear to professional issues that both Jews and Palestinians deal with in caring for others.
As the courses offered by the SFP grow and develop, the staff has realized the need for better translation between Arabic and Hebrew, to better allow everyone to express themselves in their native language and to be understood. That is why they are offering a course in simultaneous translation, starting at the end of November. The course will be taught in eight four-hour sessions, through the end of January.
The course will be taught on an academic level, and is meant for those who already have a high spoken level of both languages. The teacher, Salah Sua’ad, has an MA in translation, and he has years of experience both in translating and in training translators.
SFP facilitators led the first meeting of a new group in Jaffa, Jaffa Horizon (Ufuq-Yaffa in Arabic) meant to deal with social issues affecting the city and to support and coordinate local activism. At the end of a lively session in which many issues and ideas were raised, group members agreed that more research and discussions were needed before setting out a plan of action, and further meetings were planned.
In November, the School for Peace (SFP) staff took a weekend retreat to plan for their next year of activating programs for a diverse assemblage of students, professionals, and peace workers.
The expansion of graduate programming and support, a top priority for 2022, will continue to grow into the next year. SFP graduates are being encouraged to run for seats on their professional committees, and four Palestinian SFP graduates were submitted for candidacy for key positions in the Israel Planners Association elections in November.
Follow-up discussion groups have also been taking place for graduates of University courses as the SFP prepares to embark on courses at five campuses in 2023. Facilitation work continued this winter in Jaffa and Beer Sheba, and a new simultaneous translation course began this winter in order to deepen understanding during bilingual discussion groups across the SFP’s programming
The SFP continues a record-breaking year, conducting university courses at six different institutions, providing opportunities for dialogue between Palestinian and Jewish students who study together, but rarely speak honestly together about their shared political reality. The Nakba Tour Guide Course that ended June 24th included eleven sessions with fifteen Jewish-Israeli and Palestinian participants, including those with backgrounds in education, culture, tours, and sociopolitical activism.
One student shared the new sense of purpose he gained from the course, writing, “I have acquired a new way of looking at space – what I can see on the outside deliberately conceals something, as a systematic state approach…My responsibility as an individual is to examine what is hidden behind the visible, and share it with the audiences I interact with.”
The flagship program of the SFP is its Change Agentscourses. Built for a variety of professional fields, these multi-part courses aim to give participants tools with which to change the socio-political reality. The Human Rights Lawyers Change Agents course concluded after 11 meetings featuring binational and uni-national dialogue, lectures on theory and practice, and two study tours, leaving the six Palestinian and nine Jewish participants with a renewed sense of purpose and practical tools to create change.
The SFP also plans to expand the availability of its University courses, building on 30 years of success at Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Ben Gurion Universities, and Rupin College. The SFP has well-developed courses that examine the Jewish/ Israeli -Arab/ Palestinian conflict through the lenses of behavioral science, psychology, nursing, architecture, political science, and more. The SFP’s model recognizes that working towards peace requires the expertise and will of dedicated people across professions.
The Binational Educators’ Forum at the School for Peace took a hard look at the separate Jewish and Arab educational systems in Israel and investigated how this split system has contributed to the current conflict in the mixed cities, to prejudices and preconceived notions about the opposite group. This vital event included the Primary School teachers alongside educators from across the country and was an outgrowth of both the HOTAM teacher training and the Mixed Cities course offered by the SFP. This is precisely the kind of active change-making through collaborative work that the SFP wants to further encourage by strengthening alumni networks.
Rebuilding the physical facilities of the SFP continues, and the completion of the new buildings will do more than just provide ample space for the encounter programs and training for which the SFP is world-renowned. The new facilities will also create a physical center for the established and growing alumni networks which allow graduates of the SFP to put what they’ve learned into practice in their local communities and cities. The SFP recently put out a call for alumni grant proposals to improve Jewish-Arab relations and will mentor and support selected projects. Your support allows the SFP to continue to offer expanded training, build alumni networks, and make a concrete change that improves lives far beyond the Village’s borders.
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