Al Tariq was legally registered as a non-governmental organization in the beginning of 2006. Its founders are local leaders and activists in the Palestinian Peace Camp from different areas in the West Bank. We opened our office in El-Bireh/Ramallah in May and plan to open two branches during 2007, in Hebron and Nablus or Jenin.
Our work is divided into two main tracks which are interconnected– promoting and educating Palestinians about democracy and promoting dialogue and joint activities with Israeli and foreign organizations. We have decided to focus on children and youth, because we believe that these groups are the future of Palestine and provide the most promising opportunity for peace.
1. Promoting Democracy – We are working towards this goal by recruiting local leaders who are willing to spread our message of dialogue and non-violent conflict resolution in their societies. We are also building an Academic Staff, headed by Prof. Sami Adwan of Bethlehem University, in order to research and build educational programs that strengthen democracy. We are looking for ways to cooperate and support educational institutions such as Al-Naaj’ah University, Al-Quds University, Abu Dis University and others.
2. Joint Activities – The goal of these activities is to deepen the knowledge about the other side and to provide opportunities for “encounters” where the participants have the opportunity to break through their fear of the “other” and build relationships that will strengthen the peace process.
During the summer of 2006, Al Tariq held its first educational activity – a two-week long summer camp (July 15-28th) in a village near Ramallah. 250 children participated in the camp, which ended in a celebration on August 5th with over 600 guests. The summer camp received extensive media coverage with over 20 articles published and several radio interviews held with the camp manager, facilitators, young participants and our General Manager, Khaled Abu Awwad.
Following is a description of three joint projects which we started to plan this year with Israeli and foreign non-governmental organizations:
- Italian-Israeli-Palestinian training project which will take place in the beginning of 2007. The participating organizations in this project are Eshed, Bat Chen Association and Al Tariq, supported by the Italian University UPS. We believe that a long-term academic and educational relationship can serve as a bridge to peace, understanding and coexistence between the nations and religions.
- British-Israeli-Palestinian youth project in which Al Tariq is cooperating with Givat Haviva and Peace Insight. In this project 16 teenagers from Israel and Palestine will participate in a three-year leadership training program, which will start in the Summer 2007 with a two-week camp in Britain, followed by activities in Israel and Palestine during the schools year and summer camps during the coming two summers.
- German-Israeli-Palestinian leadership program for young adults in which we will cooperate with Annadwa Center, Bat Chen Association and Wings Hope. 20 Israeli an Palestinian youngsters will participate in the program and join a camp in Germany where they will meet other youth from conflict areas such as Serbia and Iraq together with youth from Germany.
- Parents’ Circle Families Forum – Al Tariq also works in full partnership with the Israeli-Palestinian Parents Circle Families Forum, which is comprised of 500 Israeli and Palestinian bereaved families (PCFF). Members of the PCFF work together in both societies to convey the strong message of reconciliation, giving a personal example and promoting their message: “If we who have lost our dearest can talk, you should be able to do the same”. These families hold educational dialogue activities, adult mediators meeting, media outreach and other activities in both societies.
- Al Tariq and The Bat Chen Association have been operating closely together since the organization was established. Our members take part in meetings with students and adults in the communities, in which they encourage and facilitate the building of trust as the basis for a dialogue, which we believe is the only solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
Further activities currently in planning:
Al Tariq Website – The objective of this project is to provide students and adults more information about democracy, non-violent conflict resolution and dialogue as a way of solve problems in the Palestinian society and with the Israelis. The Website will be an interactive meeting place for Palestinians and between Israelis and Palestinian, as the internet provides a neutral meeting place for both sides. The website will facilitate this communication in various ways such as a forum, blogs and at later stages video conferencing opportunities.
Civic Leadership – This project aims to instill in the civil society the values of democracy, non-violent conflict resolution, dialogue methods, peace and other themes through local leaders. Those leaders have chosen to implement the values of democracy into the Palestinian society and will be provided tools through a one-year training program.
Youth Leadership Program – This program is in the final stages. We have planned a 3-5 year project starting with students in the age of 10-17, to teach them the values of democracy, non-violence, human rights and peace trough theaters plays, youth parliament, camps and other methods.
Daily Life Dialogue – Development of dialogue by addressing the participants’ feelings and daily problems. This may seem unclear, or on the other hand obvious, but is necessary if we wish to reach people and convey to tem the themes of human life and rights. We acknowledge the need to deal with our participants’ daily struggles in order to help them and make them able to open up to our message.
Partnership – We believe that networking with other organizations who hold similar beliefs and goals will strengthen our organization as well as Palestinian society. Instead of competing with other NGO’s, we hope to form cooperative relationships in the coming years.