Project #3967

Youth Encounters at the School for Peace

by American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam

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.

Two upcoming Youth Encounter workshops are on the newly released 2016/2017 School for Peace program schedule. The first meeting will be between Israeli high school students from Givat Brener and Palestinian-Israeli high school students from Nazareth. The second meeting will be between Israeli high school students from Ramat Gan and Palestinian-Israeli high school students from Shfaramer. We will be sharing updates from the 3-day workshops as soon as we can.

This foundational program will be doing double duty as framework for guided observation by participants in our facilitator training course. Observing our Youth Encounter workshops allows our facilitators-in-training to experience a microcosm of the reality that teenagers experience. Racism, sterotypes and prejudices are addressed on both sides. The ability of our trained facilitators to guide these often overwhelming feeling into a constructive dialogue is the key to a successful, transformative experience for everyone.

“Wherever I am, whatever I’m doing in my work with the children at school, this

is there. I have been changed forever. This is me, part of my identity, my agenda. It’s part of what I try to promote in the world I live in.”-Ayelet Roth, Director of the Bilingual School Network and graduate of the School for Peace Facilitator Training course.


All School for Peace programs are built around groups of Israelis and Israeli-Palestinians coming together and engaging in dialogue led by experienced Jewish and Arab facilitators that are experts in the field of conflict resolution. Through their experience in the workshops and courses, participants become aware of their role in the conflict.

Creativity has to be the guiding principle when the mission is to bring young Palestinian and Jewish Israelis together for a few hours, a few days or a few weeks! What’s going on at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam?

Iftar during Ramadan brings Palestinian and Jewish families together to share breaking the fast- the young people encounter each other during a scared time, sharing food and their daily lives,


while Jewish and Palestinian mothers do the same!

Longer-term youth encounters happen when Palestinian and Jewish youth from Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam join others from Israel, the West Bank and the US at the Artsbridge Institute for three weeks in the summer. These encounters are often the first time American youth realize that Jewish and Palestinian youth share common dreams for their lives. The encounters do more than build leadership and empathy through the arts; they build hope among the parents and extended families of all of these remarkable pioneers.

At the School for Peace, Jewish and Palestinian young professionals are encountering one another in the real world of the Hebron hills, through the SFP’s Change Agents course for Environmentalists. Working together to find answers to the challenges of water and energy in a conflict zone, the work of these young environmentalists gives encouragement to the many others who watch them and wonder if they, too, can dare to encounter the “other.”

And if Palestinian and Jewish Primary School children are too young to participate in a high school Youth Encounter, they are an example of a daily, year-long, living encounter. Recently, they shared their message through the arts with two elementary schools in Italy encouraging them to dream and work together for a future across the divisions of culture, language and religion.

Stay tuned- The School for Peace High School Youth Encounters will resume this Fall!

Negotiating Peace – Students from Givat Brener and Nazareth High Schools

The School for Peace began its work over thirty years ago with 'youth encounters'. Most recently, the SFP held a three-day residential encounter for sixty-one 11th graders from Givat Brener School (outside of Rehovot), and Nazareth High School. The students addressed the conflict directly and seriously. Issues of rights and responsibility (army service) are always difficult yet important subjects that they discuss as well as terrorism and violence. The simulations of future agreements and learning how to live together generate new ways of thinking for each participant.

"This experience was different than anything I have experienced in my every-day life. I arrived with a lot of stigmas, like Arabs don't pay taxes and are against the Jews. I was exposed to the ideas and beliefs of the other and their views on the situation. I admit you broke my stereotypes. I now understand that the situation that I thought was complicated is really complex."

Sixty-one Jewish and Palestinian Israelis, all teenagers, took part in a four-day residential youth encounter at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam. Under the guidance of extensively-trained School for Peace facilitators, these sixty-one young adults experienced the power of dialogue at the School for Peace. These students, from Givat Brener and Nazareth High Schools, developed skills and worked on projects. They argued, they broke bread together and they listened to, and learned from, one another. Their seriousness and commitment was inspiring to their families and their peers as well, as others look forward to having this opportunity. During challenging times, the world needs those with courage to try something new and commitment to put the new skills to work.

“Here in Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, we have one aim: peaceful reconciliation between our two peoples. In order to work fruitfully towards this aim, we need to have mutual understanding and consideration of each other.”
From the (1996) last will of Father Bruno Hussar, founder (in 1976) of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam


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Organization Information

American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam

Location: Glendale, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Abir Elzowidi
Operations Manager
Glendale, California United States

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