Young People against Racism
Purpose of the Project is to build, in cooperation with several academic institutions a core of young Israeli teachers and students to be as mediators in spreading the idea of human rights and democracy in Israeli formal and informal educational systems. The project will focus on coping with growing racism, xenophobia, anti-democratic attitudes and violence in Israeli society. In In addition the project will develop avenues for peaceful conflict resolution, by identifying common ground to cooperate based on mutual respect and real equality. The project will also develop methods to educate young people toward peaceful conflict resolution.
1 - The political conflict between the state of Israel and the surrounding Arab countries and nations is only what appears on the surface. When digging down to the poisoned roots of this 100 year long conflict, we shall find a deep cultural alienation between Jewish and the Arab people, who live so close to each other. Many Jews in Israel see the "Arabs" - all Arabs - as inferior and have contempt to them. The majority of Arab people, regardless to their nationality, see Jews, especially those of western origin, as strangers and intruders, who will sooner or later disappear from this region. The outcome of this situation is, that Jewish Israelis live in a constant state of fear and many Middle Eastern Arabs live with a feeling of humiliation by the very existence of the Jewish State.
These general views of the other that the two peoples hold, carry alienation, suspicion, fear and hatred on both sides. Even among devoted supporters of the peace process deep alienation exist and only a small minority has any kind of connection with individuals from the other side, and those that do have contact often belong to the elite of their society. Among the mass majority of the population alienation between the two peoples is extremely common and has led to serious stereotyping and prejudice.
2 - In addition to the well defined conflict between Jewish majority and Arab-Palestinian minority, there are tensions, at times violent conflicts among ethnic, cultural and religious groups within the main communities in Israel: the Jewish community is split between religious and secular, Western and Oriental origin, immigrants of Russian or Ethiopian origin – versus the established Jewish population. Among the Arab-Palestinian community tensions among Moslems, Druz and Christians boil below the surface and sometimes surface in violent events among different groups within the minority Israeli populations.
3 - When scratching below the surface of Israeli society, we find a concern for democracy and human rights. Israel is regarded as the "only real democratic country in the Middle-East". This is true in a political sense. According to most surveys and studies published in Israel in recent years, a large segment of the Jewish population especially youth, have not internalized democratic values or a belief in the importance of peace, human rights and human equality. The results are even more disturbing, when looking at the religious sector. Racism and xenophobia are important factors in identity.
Inter-ethnic and intercultural tensions are common in Israeli society. Intolerance and racism are more widespread than most would expect.
Way to cope with the problem:
In our opinion the most efficient way for change is – preparing agents for social change who work (present and in the future) over the formal and informal educational system. This definition includes teachers, education students and social activists.
Thanks to the openness of several academic institutions, we run the " Young People against Racism" project in cooperation with them, while we are responsible for workshops, our partner supplies lecturers, while the content is elaborated through joint efforts and discussions.
Our Unique method
Conflicts among people are composed of different factors: mostly this is conflict between material interests, struggle for power, status, respect and dignity. Conflict can be approached cognitively
(trying to understand reasons of the conflict, learning its history, personal and group background, interests, possible solutions, etc. or emotionally ( fears, hatred, prejudices, stereotypes, hostility etc.) that present in each individual out of the involved groups.
When connecting people from different national or cultural groups living in a state of conflict, both approaches has to be taken in consideration, while an effort is made to solve the conflict – or minimally find a way for all parties to live side by side with the conflict.
Most activities in the field of dialogue around the world, emphasize a cognitive approach. In most seminars, workshops and other activities that are held with the intent of dialogue development, the organized part of the project includes lectures, discussions, simulations, and joint activities. Organizers generally believe, that meeting of partners to conflict itself will reduce the level of hostility, and there is no need to focus on the conflict's emotional aspects.
There is a very big mistake. Emotions MUST be acknowledged and openly addressed.
Emotions that are not acknowledged and legitimized, may prevent results in solving conflicts. Perhaps emotions reflecting compassion and understanding of other can not solve objective conflicts of interests, however it is certain that fear and distrust may prevent any real and lasting solution. On the other side, an open, empathetic approach of the sides can make negotiations easier and help achieve agreements and positive ways to live together. This side of conflict is often neglected by dialogue programs over the world – especially in Europe.
In "Friendship Village" we use methods that are rather known and usual in Israel, but hardly known – if at all – in other countries (with the exception of N. Ireland, where similar methods were developed independently). Our approach in our Inter-ethic Dialogue Programs is to address both aspects of conflict: emotional aspects are addressed on personal and group level. In addition cognitive aspects are addressed. We call this method "Dynamic Workshops".
a)To carry a group of Israeli University Students (Jewish and Arab) through an educational process, in order to learn about and understand the roots of racism, anti-Semitism, intolerance and hidden anti-democratic elements in the Israeli society. The process will include cognitive (lectures) as well as emotional (dynamic workshops) components.
b)To prepare a solid core of young Israelis, ready to spread values of democracy, to combat racism, xenophoby and intolerance. This core would spread the value to live in cooperation among all citizens of Israel, based on equality, tolerance and mutual respect.
c)To enable the Project's graduates to use the means and ways they learned in the " Young People against Racism " Project within their communities, in order to spread the idea of democracy, tolerance, equality and peaceful conflict resolution in them.
1 – Identity ( personal, communal, national, gender, etc.)
2 – Power and Culture: stereotypes, minority – majority relationships, cultural dominance.
3 – Ethnocentrism, ethnic exclusion, violence.
4 – The "Other" as a mirror image of self identity – ways of exclusion, ignorance and conflict.
5 –Racism as a widespread phenomenon of the modern world.
6 – Composition and structure of Israeli society.
7 – Phenomenon of minority – majority relationships, cultural dominancy, racism, in Israeli society.
The Course will include 14 successive weekly sessions of 4 academic hours each. Every session will include a 2 hour lecture, followed by dynamic workshop of 2 hours, in which issues raised in the lecture will be addressed on emotional level. Lectures will be given by the College staff, facilitation of workshops – by the Friendship Village team.
Participants: 25 – students in each course: total of 40 students.
In the second semester (February – June ) of this school year we shall run two courses in cooperation with the Levinsky College for Education and with the Department of Sociology, University of Haifa.
1 – Two groups of 15 - 20 university students in Education will be prepared to spread values of Humanism, tolerance and democracy among their future pupils. Following success of this project, it will be spread beyond the planned three Colleges, to include as many as possible education students.
1 - Every activity will be followed by consultation of College coordinators and Friendship Village facilitators. Conclusions will be applied in following activities.
2 - During the activity feedback papers will be submitted. These papers will be elaborated by the Coordinators after Project's end.
3 - When the project will finish, a feedback session and questionnaire will give proper picture about the Project's success to internalise its message to the young educators.
4 - In cooperation with the Levinsky College a one year long follow-up program will study efficiency of the Project's graduates and impact on their pupils.
5 - Evaluation will be accomplished by the Project Coordinators