We started our activities during the Gaza war, where again many innocent Palestinians became victims of the Israeli governments’ unwarranted violent reaction. During the war, our managing staff went to meet Israeli groups and spoke out against the war to local and international media, which was being supported by many prominent members of the Israeli Peace Camp. Our staff also continued to push for the Arab Initiative, which we see as one of the most viable political options to end the conflict.
Youth Leaders Program
In January and February, Palestinian and Israeli young leaders who participated in our 2007 and 2008 Summer Academy held two national meetings—one in Bethelhem for the Palestinians and one in Jerusalem for the Israelis—where we prepared the program for the year and continued to build the relationships that were established at previous summer academies. The first bi-national meeting was held in March and participants had the opportunity to share their experiences during the Gaza war, their feelings and their fears for the future. In April, both groups started preparing for the Wing’s of Hope Summer Academy in Germany, the “Peace Blog” program in Italy and the Wings of Hope Summer Camp in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
“Peace Blog” in cooperation with Arci
This project, headed by Erez Naar and Thaer Issa both former participants of the 2007 Summer Academy and group leaders in 2008, was created to promote dialogue about non-violent conflict resolution and to prepare participants to meet face-to-face in Italy. Naar contacted the student union at Tel Aviv University and asked them to cooperate by publishing the blog on their website, knowing that the project was initiated by a Palestinian organization. They accepted and in the end of April, writers from Palestine and Israel were chose in cooperation with a representative from the student union to write posts for the blog.
In April, we build a private social network (http://altariq.socialgo.com) for our young leaders and the Italian participants of the upcoming Summer Academy. The first part of this project was virtual and the Israeli, Palestinian and Italian participants were asked to participate in the weekly discussions, where group leaders choose an important topic to discuss. The participants shared their opinions and feeling about the topics and got to know each other virtually before meeting in Italy. These discussions were not always comfortable or polite and feelings of the “other” were not always taken into consideration. Participants often brought their national opinions – in contrast to personal ones – making it difficult to find a common ground. Several times, we had to remind participants that there are rules to dialogue and that they must abide by them if they want a chance to connect with the “other side”.
Both Palestinian and Israeli participants had a national meeting with other participants who were going to Germany and Bosnia at the end of June and beginning of July. On the 18th of July the Palestinian group travelled across the Allenby Bridge to get to the airport in Amman and then to fly to Florence. The Israeli group travelled one day later, leaving from Tel Aviv to Florence. The Palestinian and Israeli groups met for the first time in the middle of the night in Florence.
In Florence, our group leaders had to deal with hard conditions. The accommodations in Florence were unsuitable and they asked our Italian host and partner, Arci, to change the accommodations, which they did so kindly, and our group ended up staying for 13 days in a beautiful countryside resort. This rural setting gave the participants a chance to develop deeper connections and work through the challenges of dialoging in a peaceful place, undisturbed by the noise of the city. Unfortunately, there were only two Italian participants who were with our group, making it difficult to take our group out of a two sided framework.
During our trip, the participants met with official representatives from Florence, participated in sports activities, trips and lectures which were arranged by our host. Besides Arci’s programming, participants engaged in a daily 1 1/2 hour long dialogue sessions, which were led by Erez and Thaer. These sessions make a real difference for our participants, which we saw as the trip progressed. For example, one of the core issues that we discussed was the separation wall or the “security fence” as Israelis call it. In the beginning, one of the Israeli participants argued fervently that the “security fence” was necessary for Israel’s security. However, after our dialogue sessions where we discussed different perspectives on the issue, he started calling the wall a “separation wall” and one of our group leaders decided to ask him what changed his mind. The participant answered that now that he met Palestinians, and started to see them as friends, he realized that it was a separation barrier and not for security.
The participants returned to Israel and Palestine on the 2nd of August.
Wings of Hope Summer Academy, Bosnia-Herzegovina
We selected two Israeli and two Palestinian participants from the 2007 and 2008 Summer Academies to participate in the Summer Academy of Wings of Hope in Bosnia – Herzegovia (July 12 – 20th). T the Palestinian representatives were Moayad Abu Awwad and Mariana Mukarker, the Israeli representatives were Renana Leviani and Doron Solomon.
In the first two days, they visited Sajarevo and participated in a youth summer camp in the mountains. The conditions of the summer camp in the mountains were not easy and forced our participants to confront many realities that are present in less conservative societies. The Bosnian representatives spoke with our group about the social problems they face in Bosnia – Herzegovia, most notably the drinking and smoking problems with young people, which they connected to the national trauma that the young people experienced during the conflict.
Our representatives held a joint presentation about the Palestinian / Israeli conflict and the different problems each society faces as part of the optional program during the camp. Many of the Palestinian and Israeli participants were surprised by how interested and engaged the Bosnian young people were and how many chose to attend the optional presentation. The Bosnian participants suggested that we send a bigger group in the future and that we hold a dialogue group with young people from Bosnia – Herzegovia to discuss the art of dialogue and reconciliation.
Wings of Hope Summer Academy, Germany
The Palestinian group leaders were Mohannad Abu Awwad and Amneh Al-Sharha, and the Israeli group leaders were Efrat Embar and Noam Tirosh. Amneh and Noam went in April to Germany in order to plan the Summer Academy that was going to be held August 3rd through 17th in Ruhpolding.
The Palestinian and Israeli groups started preparing by working a similar “Peace Blog” project and held two national preparation seminars, one in Jerusalem and one in Bethlehem. The themes of the seminars on the Palestinian side focused on human rights, folklore, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, media, “What is normalization,” the Holocaust, national narratives and how they are perpetuated by Palestinian-Israeli schoolbooks. On the Israeli side, participants focused on Judaism, Zionism, the Palestinian – Israeli conflict, settlements, European conflict resolution, Palestinian society and national narratives in Palestinian – Israeli school books. They also watched the film “Encounter Point” which features a member of Al Tariq and other peace organizations that Al Tariq has partnered with. As a result of these national meetings, both groups prepared presentations to make about their national experience in Germany.
This project was possible because of the support and cooperation of Wings of Hope, the foundation Die Schwelle and the Hans Seidel foundation.
In Ruhpolding the Palestinian and Israeli participants were joined by a group of German youth, a group from Bosnia-Herzegovina and a group from Iraq. This was the first time that Palestinian and Israeli participants had the chance to meet other young people who had experienced conflict in other parts of the world. Besides the encounter with the other groups, the participants had workshops about non violent conflict resolution, trauma and participated in a theatre workshop. The groups had also had the chance to get to know each other more personally by engaging in bonding experiences like mountain climbing, rafting, visiting Dachau concentration camp and touring Munich.
After we returned, we were unable to meet in September because of the Jewish and Muslim holidays. In the middle of October, Palestinian and Israeli participants of the Summer Academy and the “Peace Blog” project meet in Al-Ram. They participated in a full day workshop where they brainstormed ideas for new programs:
- Peace camp for children
- Israeli-Palestinian study group to learn about dialogue, non-violent conflict resolution and how to build a peaceful future
We decided to join forces and start with the studying the conflict and diverse peace program, so that they can develop a peace dialog program of themselves.
The Palestinian and Israeli participants were only able to have a few bi-national meetings for the leaders in order to prepare the next year’s programming together.
The first phase of the resource center program, which started in August 2008, continued in 2009 with 8 workshops. All workshops were facilitated by Mr. Rashid Arar, managed by Al-Tariq staff and a team of experts, building a diverse and intensive program which aims to strengthen young people in promoting the values of democracy, non-violent conflict resolution and human rights in Palestine.
The first phase started with 18 participants and ended with 15 participants in April 2009. The participants came from across the West Bank, seven from the north (Jenin-Nablus area), seven from the center (Ramallah, Jerusalem and Bethlehem) and four from the South (Hebron). When choosing participants, it was important to us that we strive for gender equality. In the beginning 40 % of the participants were women, and seven women continue to be active in the resource center’s activities.
Al-Tariq Father’s group
Wings of Hope Germany and Al-Tariq started to plan the next Father’s seminar, which should be in January 2010 in Jericho.
We thank all our friends and donors as only because of their help and support we are able to do our activities.
“Lend me your View”
Is a program which Al-Tariq is planning to do in June 2010 in cooperation with the Lidice Haus Bremen and the Parents Circle – Families Forum. In order to prepare this we send to a seminar of European for Peace Amneh Al-Sharha in the end of April.