School for Peace Youth Encounters
It is a source of pride for those Jewish and Arab high schools in Israel that make a commitment to preparing for a four day residential encounter with “the other side” held at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam. This winter, two groups of 55 students each worked with the issues of ignorance, stereotyping, histories and fears. Recent (December 2012) violence between Israel and Gaza had resulted in postponement of one of the workshops.
Two months later than planned, the Arab and Jewish students shared personal stories, experiences of discrimination, minority status, power relations, national identity, national/ civil rights and service and army service. With the guidance and support of eight Jewish and Arab facilitators, the encounter focused then on four areas: the nature of the state, education, symbols and ceremonies and historical justice and reconciliation.
Students from Makif Givat Brenner, Galilee School Nazareth, El Hitma School- Sakhnin don’t expect to change their world just yet, but they left the encounter with the skills to broaden their relationships and expand their vision of what’s possible. At the end, students wrote to one another; the following quote from one expresses the sentiments of many: "The meeting gave me the feeling that I want to know you more, I want to meet on a regular basis and I wanted us to act together.“
That sounds like a plan for the future that we can all support!