Project #3967

Youth Encounters at the School for Peace

by American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam

Youth Encounters for Engineering students:

The School for Peace meets Jewish and Palestinians participants “where they are.” The Youth Encounter that is usually a residential (at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam) intensive program with older students from Arab and Jewish high schools, is now being offered over a longer time period to college-age youth.

Currently working with the students at Azrieli College of Engineering. In Jerusalem, the School for Peace brings together Azrieli’s Arab and Jewish student population which includes residents of East Jerusalem and those who are religious and politically conservative. Azrieli College recognized that it was going to be vital to open communications between the two student groups as tensions can often run high. This semester-long course/ encounter enables these students, who will be entering the work world, to understand their Jewish – Arab conflict, and build communication skills in a way that can contribute to reducing the conflict.

The students, who study together for three years, often never interacted with those from the other nationality. For many the program was the first time they openly discussed issues with the other side. Meeting both at Azrieli College and at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, they spoke about life in East Jerusalem, the Gaza war last summer, discrimination, terrorist activities and many issues that are at the heart of the conflict.

The success of the program has led Azrieli College to request that the School for Peace run the program again next year, doubling the number of meetings.

The School for Peace’s City Planners, Engineers and Architects course for 30 Arabs and Jewish professionals, young adult and experienced alike. The class is shaping up to be a very strong cohort of individuals. The course will continue taking place through the rest of the year with participants meeting once a month to take part in multiple dialogues, educational trips, and developing and implementing their own projects. Their primary goal is the development of an engaged, interactive and long-term network of Palestinian (Christian and Muslim) and Jewish Planners.
The SFP is also excited to announce the very recent news that the Israeli Council on Higher Education has given its final approval to the Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam World Peace College, after a development process that has taken over four years. The World Peace College will be ready to receive its first class of students in 2016!

The School for Peace is excited to announce Harb Amara as the newest member of the team. Harb Amara comes to the School for Peace as their new Program Director. Mr. Amara is no stranger to social change; he has worked with the School for Peace and USAID in the past and is also the head of Community Services and Prevention of Violence in the Family in Nazareth.

“We want to continue to identify potential ways of leading social progress. We know we cannot hold back what happens around us. What we can do is continue seeking solutions and finding partners, seeking what is common to all, joining with other actors who want people to be happier in their lives,” says Mr. Amara.

In April, Simona Susskin, member of the Belgium and European Parliaments, organized a group of 50 Belgium youth studying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to take part in a School for Peace seminar.

The SFP recently presented on a panel that was titled “Pluralism in Higher Education,” held at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute Conference focusing on advancing higher education in the Arab community. As a result of the conference, the Open University and Azrieli College turned to the SFP to organize courses with their students. Due to the successful nature of past courses and programs, there are plans of renewing the graduate forums in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Nazareth to support graduate run initiatives.

Youth Workshop
Youth Workshop

Back on track again, the School for Peace is making history by resuming regional forums for SFP graduates and another for state led planning to end the occupation. In January, the SFP, in cooperation with The Arab Center for Alternative Planning, opened a year-long program for 30 urban planners, architects, and civil engineers that will meet once a month creating a strong base of professionals dedicated to responsible city development. In addition, this month the SFP opened its doors to 31 leaders from 6 different mixed cities in Israel in order to create cooperative and peaceful movements for community organizations in tension ridden areas.

Soon to come, the School for Peace is planning to open 2 courses, 1 on the Ramat-Gan campus and another in Beer Sheva for 40 Arab & Jewish students to participate from March to May. Also in the works, the SFP is organizing a group of 50 women for a weekend workshop in May and another facilitator course to help guide future programs.

Ongoing program evaluations help the SFP stay focused on supporting programs that respond appropriately to identified needs of target communities that are in positions to create change. Your support for the School for Peace makes possible these life-changing programs for future Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

During the conflict in Gaza, for the safety and comfort of the participants, it was decided by both Tawasul and the School for Peace that the continuation of the cross-border encounters course would be postponed for a short period. The program started up again this past October. The Journalist Writers Foundation award will fund the SFP and Tawasul to organize an additional encounters course after the conclusion of this current course.

Most recently, the School for Peace has been expanding its partnerships with both Israeli and Palestinian organizations to ensure steady growth and expand its impact. It has been setting up regional forum meetings in Nazareth, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem for past graduates of the School for Peace encounter programs to meet and work on their own projects together. Resulting projects from these meetings include working with young Arab women as they transition from villages into the university lifestyle, and empowering Arab student unions. Other impressive graduate achievements include Dr. Nissim Avissar’s published book that was inspired by the mental health professionals’ course, and Elinor Amit’s course at Harvard that is based on the SFP method of working with groups in conflict.


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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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