NS/WAS wins Bernadotte Grant of $50,000
A First Step Towards Building the 'Peace Campus'

The Folke Bernadotte Memorial Foundation has agreed to provide a grant of $50,000 as 'seed money' towards the building of a 'Peace Campus' in Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam. This generous grant is extremely welcome since it represents the very first substantial contribution towards the project. The grant will enable us to work with planners, surveyors, engineers and other professionals to conceptualize the project, prepare and submit applications for permits from the State authorities, as well as to prepare materials for an architectural competition or tender. This is not the first contribution to be received from the prestigious Bernadotte Foundation; it also contributed in the past towards our educational institutions and to the construction of the Guest House.

The purpose of the peace campus will be to consolidate and to extend the work being done by Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam's educational institutions. It will enable us to broaden and deepen this work by providing facilities for each of the educational institutions of the village. Each educational institution:  the School for Peace, the Children's Educational System, the Bruno Hussar Spiritual Pluralist Center  will continue to work separately, but the Peace Campus will incorporate them into a mutually-enhancing interdisciplinary center. In addition, new frameworks of activity will be added.

The various institutions included in the new Campus will provide teachers, community workers, and other professionals with interdisciplinary tools that will enable them to fulfill a productive role in conflict management and transformation. They will acquire not only facilitation skills but language skills, actual teaching experience in a binational setting, the ability to apply art and drama work in encounter, communications skills such as film and TV production, the use of internet and site development. On a theoretical level the center will impart knowledge of group work theory, conflict studies, and the role of religion, language and cultural differences in generating conflict or striving for peace. Conferences and symposiums on peace and conflict issues will be a natural part of the campus, and visits by distinguished personalities in the field will enrich the academic accomplishments of the campus staff and students. An extensive peace research library will also be established. The net result of all of these activities will be a solid contribution to the improvement of relations between Arabs and Jews in Israel, a strengthening of the peace process, an increased understanding of the mechanics of conflict in our area and an export of valuable information and ideas to other conflict areas of the world.

Since the Campus is a large project of considerable ambition, the time frame for its establishment and full implementations will be measured in years rather than months. However, we are proceeding by strengthening each of the existing educational institutions, and now, with the help of the Bernadotte grant, we will be able to advance the project up to the stage of actual architectural planning. The time-span for this preliminary stage will very much depend upon the progress of the State authorities in processing our applications for the various required permits. Architectural planning and construction will depend upon the success of our future fundraising efforts. Two components of the project -  the planned public auditorium (part of the neighboring planned Community Center) and the planned peace library - have already received substantial contributions.

 

Background information on the Peace Campus appears below.


The Peace Campus

Provision for a ?Peace Campus? is incorporated in the master plan of the village. The plan allocates 12,000 square meters (3 acres) of land to the campus. We now seek to extend this area through a proposed revision to the Master Plan. The revision would require the acquisition of adjoining State Land, for a total area of 53,000 square meters (13.25 acres). The tract set aside for the Campus is excellently located on the summit of the hill.

The campus, when completed, will enable us to broaden and deepen the educational work being done here by providing new facilities for each of the educational institutions of the village. Though continuing to work separately, they will together form a mutually enhancing interdisciplinary center.

One of the virtues of this conception is that, drawing upon the educational institutions already established in NS/WAS, the same facilities may be used for a variety of activities and programs - all with the cardinal idea of accomplishing educational work for peace and coexistence.

The School for Peace, having already gone far in its cooperation with institutions of higher learning in Israel, has received agreement in principle to offer academically accredited programs taught on site. If proper facilities exist, this could conceivably lead to the development of a broad range of academically recognized programs and to a unique center for field research on conflict-related issues. Various kinds and levels of training could take place to provide teachers, community workers, and other professionals who are or who intend to be involved in Jewish-Arab encounter, with the interdisciplinary tools they need to fulfill a useful role in the improvement of relations between the two peoples. They could acquire not only facilitation skills but also language skills, actual teaching experience in a binational setting, the ability to apply art and drama work in encounter, communications skills such as film and TV production, the use of internet and Website development. On a theoretical level, they could learn group work theory, conflict studies, and the role of religion, language and cultural differences in generating conflict or striving for peace. In such a varied and mutually reinforcing interdisciplinary center, the possibilities are exciting. Conferences and symposiums on peace and conflict issues will be a natural part of the campus, and visits by distinguished personalities in the field will enrich the academic accomplishments of the campus staff and students. The net result of all of these activities will be a solid contribution to the improvement of relations between Arabs and Jews in Israel, a strengthening of the peace process, an increased understanding of the mechanics of conflict in our area and an export of valuable information and ideas to other conflict areas of the world.

The first stage of the plan has been to appoint a staff that will accompany the development of the project. This staff is working with an architect, engineers and other professionals in order to define the needs of the campus, submit plans to State authorities, prepare publications for fundraising, and arrange for an architectural tender. The seed money needed for this initial stage of the project is estimated at $50,000. Costs of the entire project, including production of detailed architectural and construction plans, the leasing of the land, construction, etc. can only be determined after the architectural tender has been completed and a master plan exists.


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