“In my personal process there was a change of perspective due to the face-to-face meeting with the other side.
The importance of the ability to acknowledge the difficult experiences of the Arab side was made clear with a sentence that was said in the course’s closing statements “Only when the Jews will understand that peace is impossible as long as the Arabs do not have a clear identity and a full recognition of what and who they are. Only then we could speak about peace.”
My ability to connect to this sentence and acknowledge it summarizes in my eyes these two weeks. During the course I have gained experiences that will affect my personal and professional worlds, and will change my perspective about my work with the Arab society.”
A Jewish Participant
Dr. Ornat Turin
Chair of the Communication Department
The Gordon Academic College of Education, Haifa
In the last three years the Communication department at Gordon College collaborated with Friendship Village in order to have dialogue workshops between Jewish and Arab teachers. The results of this work are visible, positive, and exciting.
Studying in the college allows for contact with women from other religions and
ethnicities, but physical contact does not insure social contact. Between the students of the differing sides there is a rift and alienation. The students do not eat together, do not co-write papers, and even avoid sitting next to each other.
This rift is fueled by the cultural differences and the conflict in the Middle East, as it relates to everything that is happening in Israel, as well as ignorance about questions of history, politics, and gender. During the dialogue courses that take place in the college, the participants are asked to clarify their opinions and stands about this issue and to build a personal, civilian, and educational vision. All through the workshops, the shared interests of the participants as teachers and women are emphasized.
The course offers historical and factual knowledge and different approaches to the
conflict and gender relations in Israel. However, it does not remain purely theoretical. The workshops bring the students into a dialogue of equals. During the course, the conversation is built to allow acknowledging the “other” and “the other side”, and working on accepting the difference. Our guiding light is the knowledge that empathy and tolerance are essential to the reduction of racism and violence.
From the experience of the last three years, we learned that the students express
emotions and insights that prove women and civilian empowerment, dedication to continue studying and raising awareness and the importance of the course on their training as teachers.
We have no doubt that these courses are an essential part of training women in the field of education, and due to the racism that appears in Israeli society it is of the highest priority. We are grateful to Friendship Village for their willingness to conduct this project. We will be happy to continue this mutually beneficial collaboration and hope that similar courses will happen in every academic institution in Israel.