"Nemashim" - Youth plays peace
JOINT JEWISH-ARAB VOLUNTEERING YEAR
The "Nemashim" Project brings together Israeli Jewish and Arab-Palestinian volunteers who have graduated from high school and use theatre as a means to develop dialogue, mutual respect and understanding. We are living together in the middle of a terrible, destructive conflict and we feel that a way out is by developing peaceful resistance to violence, realising the ideals of equality and co-existence in a mixed group and by using theatre to advance these ideals.
The group of volunteers is made of 5 youngsters, who will live together in a common apartment (communa), within a low-income neighborhood of mixed population in the northern town of Haifa. Together they prepare and create theatre programs that focus on social and educational problems of the community they live in, on promoting inter-ethnic dialogue and understanding.
The group is working under the guidance of Uri Shani and Shadi Faher a Din, two directors who have extensive experience in work of theatre and Jewish-Arab dialogue and meetings.
The Project started in August 2004 with recruiting Jewish and Arab students of high-schools upper class, who were interested to participate in a Jewish-Arab Theatre Circle. Following a process that went along 6 successive weekend workshops ( once in a month), the group of volunteers were selected by the Project's directors.
At the present the 5 young volunteers work on different educational and social projects in the low-income Jewish-Arab neighborhood that they live in. Participants for the 2006 group of volunteers already started to be recruited.
When trying to find the hidden roots of the Israeli - Palestinian conflict, one must realize that it is actually the reflection of a much deeper problem, that of the very complicated relationships between the Jewish and the Arab people living in the Middle East. This problem is characterized by deep hostility, mistrust and ignorance. While most of the Jews living in the area look upon their Arab neighbors as inferior to them, most Arabs look at the Jews as intruders that sooner or later ought to disappear. No real and lasting peace can be established between these peoples without real acceptance of each other on basis of equality.
One of the most severe problem inside the Israeli society is the character of it’s relations between the Jewish majority and the Arab - Palestinian minority. Status of the Arab-Palestinian minority in Israel as well as its relationships with the Jewish majority, can not be separated from the Israeli - Palestinian conflict. This conflict multiplies the usual tension that exist almost everywhere between ethnic groups that live in the framework of the same country, town or neighborhood. Jews and Arabs live in Israel side by side, but socially they are almost completely separated. The relationships that does exist are actually reflection of the general relationships between the Arab and the Jewish people, living in the Middle East, (even though on somewhat milder level) and can be characterized in terms of alienation, ignorance and fear.
The situation we are facing
Although our area is infamous with the violent conflict that exist between the State of Israel and the occupied Palestinian people, we can't ignore another conflict that exist within the state of Israel: the conflict between its Jewish majority and Arab-Palestinian minority, who are formally regarded as full right citizens, still discriminated in daily practice, almost on every level of life. Although we regard minorities empowerment as an important instrument on their struggle for achieving equal rights, still believe that struggle for equality, needs also close cooperation between people of the minority and groups out of the majority, in order to get some results. The two main national populations that live in the state of Israel have always carried antagonism and hostility towards each other. Arab population in Israel is discriminated almost on every aspect of their life, formally by the authorities and informally by most of the majority population .
"NEMASHIM" the unique and extraordinary program for which we ask your support, copes with the most fundamental level of the conflict. It enables Jewish and Arab high school graduates to dedicate a year of life to communal living and educational work. It also allows them to experience on a personal level a life of coexistence and cooperation on the basis of equality. This is achieved through they daily life, such as sharing an apartment, eating, working and spending free-time together. This program also allows them to transmit their ideas which have been strengthened by personal everyday experience to other youngsters by;
a) establishing and running theatre workshops for children, youth and adults in the local community center.
b) volunteering in social and educational activities in Jewish and Arab low-income neighbor communities.
c) performing theatre plays of relevant, progressive content, to children and adult population of the community.
d) taking part in organizational works of Friendship Village.
The Project's participants include 6 volunteers, young Jewish and Arab men and women (age 18 – 20).
They are under the management of two Project Directors – an Arab and a Jew. In solving day by day personal, social and administrational problems they have to face, assistance is given by a Social Coach.
Their activity focuses on disadvantaged population of two nearby, Jewish and Arab low income neighborhoods. Along the year of volunteering, the Project's team live in a rented apartment in one of these neighborhoods.
Target population is mostly children and youth, however some projects with adults are hold too.
All together we work with 60 – 80 children and teenagers as well as 30 - 40 adults, men and women, of the two communities
When going into details of planning the Year of Volunteering, it is developed in cooperation between the Project's staff and the young participants.
Mission statement :
To promote the ideals of real equality, peace and co-existence in a mixed, multi-cultural society.
•To build trust and cooperation, based on mutual respect, between youth of the two different nations living side by side in Israel.
•To learn and look at different points of view, identities, culture and behavior within the group as well as in the community surrounding it.
•To realize a better reality through theatre.
•To create a supportive environment for all the objectives above
1 – To experience communal life. To build a harmonious activity and living together in the Communa.
2 - To encourage and increase meetings between young Arabs and Jews in Haifa, while arising problems, questions and ideas in open discussions
3 - To promote deprived youth, through self confidence building thereby drama, dialogue and cooperation between youngsters of the two national communities.
4 - To reduce tensions between Arab and Jews in the community in which we live.
5 – To use theatre as a means, to promote all these goals.
6 – To find ways, to cooperate with Social Centers and Jewish-Arab NGOs in Haifa.
7 - To work towards a continuance of this project
1 – Establishment of 3 theatre circles for children, youth and adults among the population of the Jewish and Arab neighborhoods. Meetings will include dynamic workshops, discussions, theatre workshops, lectures. Three times a year, they will perform a play that reflects problems of their society.
2 – Establishment of one mixed group of 20 Arab and new Jewish immigrant youth, in which they will learn ways for peaceful conflict resolution, dialogue and about the culture of each other, problems in school and in society. The group will be carried through a deep going trust building process that will prepare them for respectful cooperation on longer run.
3 – Establishment of connections between population of "Newe Yosef" Jewish and "Halisa" Arab neighborhoods.
1 - Enhancement of mutual respect and cooperation among the population of neighboring , Jewish-Arab neighborhoods.
2 – Increasing the level of self-esteem among deprived youth in the neighborhood.
3 – To make an exemplary project in building respectful relationships between young Arabs and Jews in Haifa. Success of this project will radiate positive attitude, all over the Town.
Activities and working methods
1 - Recruiting and preparation of participants to Project
The Friendship Village staff spreads the word about the "Nemashim" project, among participants of Jewish and Arab high-school circles for drama. After a series of interviews with the Project Directors, first selection of nominees is made. These nominees are invited to a weekend seminar in the middle of the school year. After that, monthly workshops are hold for the would-be participants of the project in which they learn more about the project and undergo a team-building process led by the Project Directors. The final selection of the participants is made during the summer. One week prior to the summer vacations’ end, the selected team goes through a week-long Volunteers' seminar in which they are taught basic skills for the best possible fulfillment of the job they are setting out to do during their year of service.
2- The Group and Its Schedule
Haifa, with its mixed Jewish-Arab population (30.000 Arabs, 65% of them Christians190.000 Jews) is the Capital of northern Israel. The Project is based in a rented apartment in Downtown Haifa. Its volunteers are required to work two days a week to help to cover their living expenses. The rest of their time, three full days and every evening, is dedicated to social and educational activities. Some of them initiated by members of the "Nemashim" project, others will be in cooperation with Jewish and Arab NGOs and Social Centers. Once in a fortnight they go home to their families. The organization supplies the volunteers' traveling expenses, health insurance and food when traveling.
On the first day of September the new group starts its period of activity. One has to remember, that the first period is quite difficult for these youngsters. They leave their homes and families for the first time in their lives and they take on a heavy responsibility at the same time. They have to cope with completely new, unknown situations. They lead groups of young people, many of whom are not much younger than they are, they organize operations, seminars, workshops for 30-60 people and face the challenge of convincing other people of what they believe in. The team's members are assisted through this process by the Project Managers (a Jew and an Arab), who prepare them to run theatre groups, performances, training, as well as with a Social Coach who helps them to solve administrational, personal and social problems that arise during the year. These young people come mostly from middle class families where they were cared for by their parents and where they were not required to do physical work. Now, besides educational responsibilities, they must cope with uncomfortable living conditions (2-3 people in each small room), living with mere acquaintances who come from two or more cultures, with 8 hour work days, etc. The Project Managers and the Social Coach meets with the team two to three times a week during the first month of activity, later on once or twice a week. The Educational Coordinator of the organization meets them once in a month to offer educational guidance.
3 – Activities' development
Cooperation with Social Centers, relevant NGOs and high-schools is crucial to the success of our project. We recruit interested teenagers in Jewish and in Arab high-schools, the same time get in touch with social centers and Some NGOs that work either on Jewish-Arab dialogue, or on enhancement of deprived Arab population of Haifa, in purpose to suggest our projects as joint enterprise.
In accomplishment of our program, we also mean to cooperate with Christian communities in Downtown Haifa. The most notable of them belong to the Orthodox and the Anglican Churches.
4 – Methods
The Project's team (the volunteers), has been prepared through 6 monthly weekend workshops, to run educational theater workshops, to develop dialogue process between Jewish and Arab youth and to manage educational activities. The project will include two levels of activities:
A – Workshops, discussions and further education for the Team. This level will be executed by the Project's two co-managers. They will get support and advise from educational experts of the Organization.
B – Activity of the Team among the population, especially the youth, of the neighboring "Newe Yosef" Jewish and "Halisa" Arab neighborhoods, in purpose to build cooperative projects between them.
a. Project evaluation
Questionnaires to participants in community (was their opinion changed? Are they
going to keep in touch with people they have met? Are they going to do
Continuance of activities, initiated by citizens
Neighbors relations and our relations with neighbors
Questionnaires to participants of group: how did the commune life worked? How
will we continue these ideas after leaving the commune? How was the
collaboration in the group? What did we learn from this year (maybe writing
journals giving it to society)
Questionnaires to Uri Shani
b. Process evaluation
Project evaluation methods will be undertaken during the year (around January).
Personal talks with Uri three to four times a year.
Collective talks including the whole group- discussing and evaluating the individual
preparation and projects as well as the joint work of the group.
Building and consolidating the group
Along the present school year we are working on the selection of participants and formation of the group. Five 2 day seminars will be held for the selection process. Later on Uri Shani will conduct personal interviews with the final candidates (this process will be finished by May 2006). With the selected group we will have one more weekend seminar (July 2006) to prepare towards the year ahead. The Project will start on the 1st of September.
NEMASHIM Project Directors: Mr. Uri Shani – Theater director, former youth worker.*
Mr. Shadi Faher ad Din – Actor, theater director
Social Coach :Ms. Inas Talhami - Psychologist
Total cost of Project $ 67.500