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Update from the Pluralistic Spiritual Centre

October 2009

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This report summarizes the activities conducted in the last 6 months at the Pluralistic Spiritual Center

Mediation in a multicultural context

Facilitators and instructors of this project are:
Abdessalam Najjar and Jonathan Naftali.
Administrative management: Dorit Shippin

In 2008-9 the program was supported by German Friends of NSWAS (through The Protestant Church in Rheinland)

Our mediation project started last year with phase 1: a 60-hour mediation training. It was the first of its kind in Israel, in that it was planned especially for a mixed Arab-Jewish group. We had 18 Arab and Jewish participants.

The second phase ended this month and was a 60-hour training for a group of certified mediators. In this group we had graduates from last year’s course and also some very experienced mediators; both Jews and Arabs. In this phase we had two long weekend seminars, one that took place in June and another one last October.

The aim of these two phases was to explore mediation between our societies here in Israel, in the face of the multicultural character of Israeli society and the conflictual reality.

After gathering all the materials and impressions of both phases, a curriculum will be developed. This curriculum will serve for training mediation instructors and will add another perspective to community mediation in multicultural societies in conflict.

We believe that such a curriculum will add to a better understanding of resolving conflicts in societies that live in a reality of inequality. It will also help to deal with conflict management in the framework of Jewish - Arab and Israeli - Palestinian relations.

The first part of phase two was mainly dedicated to exploring the complexity of the Jewish - Palestinian conflict and the influence of the conflict on mediation in a Jewish - Arab context in Israel.

In the first weekend, the participants experienced an encounter facilitated by School for Peace faculty Ahmad Hijazi and Nava Sonnenschein.

The second weekend was conducted in cooperation with three American mediators, members of “Mediators Beyond Borders” (MBB): Dorit Cypis who is the chair of MBB’s Middle East initiative, Maureen Dabagh and Michelle Diamond. See: http://www.mediatorswithoutborders.org/

The MBB guests conducted the first day of the seminar sharing with us their rich experience in mediating across cultures. MBB members will be involved in helping to write the curriculum for the third stage of the project.

Pictures from the last weekend in October can be viewed below or at:
http://picasaweb.google.com/info.nswas/Mediators20091016#

Dirasat: study of texts and interfaith encounter

A joint project of the PSC in NSWAS and the “Interfaith Coordinating Council in Israel.(ICCI)
Administration, coordination and facilitation:
Mr Ofir Yarden - ICCI
Mr Abdessalam Najjar – PSC, NSWAS
Ms Dorit Shippin - PSC, NSWAS

This last year, our program “Dirasat” took a different direction. We decided to cooperate with The interfaith Coordinating Council headed by Dr Rabbi Ron Kronish. Together with their program coordinator Mr. Ofir Yarden, we started a new initiative. “Dirasat”became an encounter program for faculty and students of religious colleges in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

After a long period of preparation, we succeeded in recruiting 6 institutions of the three faiths, and various denominations from each faith, to commit to participate.

Last June we conducted a pilot long-weekend program. We had participants from various institutions, most of them theologians, clergy or both.

The program was planned by a steering committee that included NSWAS PSC staff, ICCI staff and three representatives of the academic institutions.

The program included: study of texts presented by the academic members of the steering committee, dialog facilitated by PSC and ICCI staff and worship periods conducted by the clergy who participated.

Based on this pilot and our previous experiences with Dirasat seminars, we are planning to continue working with 9 different religious academic institutions. The aim will be to promote dialog encounter and to deepen awareness among community religious leaders, in order to advance peace and justice between Jews and Palestinians.

Pictures from the pilot weekend in June can be viewed below or at: http://picasaweb.google.com/info.nswas/Dirasat2009#

A narrative report from the Dirasat program in PDF format can be found here:

PDF - 102.3 kb
Dirasat - Short Narrative Report

Massa Massar: A journey of discovery for Jewish and Palestinian youth

A joint project of the Pluralistic Spiritual Center, The School for Peace in NSWAS and the “Open House” Ramle.

Administration and facilitation: Vivian Rabia (The Open House) and
Dorit Shippin (PSC, NSWAS).

This last summer, we conducted The Journey for the third time. This year it was funded by the Arigatou foundation and their Global Network of religions for children.

The 20 participants, aged 15-17 went on a 6-day Journey. The Journey started in Wahat al Salam Neve Shalom where they heard about the village and its work from two young participants in the program from NSWAS (Kerem Beeri Ben Ishay and Muhammad Najjar). On the second day, we continued to Jerusalem. We visited the holy sites together, learned about Jerusalem’s challenges as a divided city. We learned about the problem of human rights in the Palestinian part of Jerusalem and about the problem of the Jewish settlements in Maaleh Adomim.

We continued to Jaffa and learned about the life in a mixed town, and then continued to the Galilee to hear narratives of Israelis and Palestinians from two persons: a Jewish member of Kibbutz Lohameh HaGhettaot, who was the son of Holocaust survivors, and a Palestinian, who is a son of refugees from the village of Al-Sameria. Kibbutz Lohameh HaGhettaot (the Ghetto Fighter’s) was built on the lands of Al-Sameria in 1949, one year after the destruction fo the village. The encounter took place in the kibbutz cemetery and then by the cemetery of the Palestinian village, about 150 meters away.

During the journey, the group had time for dialog and reflection. This summer, with the cooperation of the School for Peace (SFP), the group had a dialog encounter facilitated by two SFP facilitators. The skilled facilitation helped the participants to process what they experienced and to reach a deeper level of understanding of the Jewish - Palestinian conflict.

With this understanding, the young people will hopefully be motivated to explore ways of action for peace and justice as they become young adults.

This summer, the Arigatou International Office in Geneva headed my Ms. Agneta Ucko, decided to produce a special report on the Journey as a “Best Practice” of their program on Ethics Education. They sent their youth coordinator, Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe, to document. A booklet and a video film will be produced in the coming months.

Pictures from Massa Massar 2009 can be viewed below or at :
http://picasaweb.google.com/info.nswas/MassaMassar2009#


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