Jewish-Arab Center for Peace at Givat Haviva was awarded the UNESCO Prize
for Peace Education 2001, for its “ceaseless efforts in educating for peace,
understanding and prevention of violence.” While programs at Givat Haviva
continue, many of them take place in groups segregated to Arabs only or Jews
only. The goal is to keep people talking, raising issues and fostering and
understanding of other cultures.
Communication and joint programming
are frequently hailed as the beginning of peace and friendship among people.
At Givat Haviva, the dialogues on issues confronting Israel’s population
have taken place continuously since 1949.
Founded as a seminar center for the
Kibbutz Artzi and the Shomer HaTzair movements, the seminar center enabled
kibbutz members to learn about management, socialism and group relations.
In the 1960s the center began to run
dialogue groups to foster understanding between Jews and Arabs. Since the
Jewish-Arab Center for Peace at Givat Haviva opened its doors 40 years ago,
it has continuously sought creative solutions to continue to grow its efforts.
Kids teach kids, a two-to-three
year program beginning in seventh grade,works with students from two schools
at the same time, one Arab and one Jewish. The kids meet twice a week and
have a chance to get to know one another. They are able to build long-term
relationships over a protracted period of time. The program is successful
in that it enables participants to get to know one another, and that as the
myths are broken true friendships begin. Unfortunately today, only eight
schools participate in this program.
The women’s project has two
leaders, one Arab and one Jewish. While all of the participants in this program
are community workers, between 23 and 50 years old, the program is run separately
for Arabs and Jews. The women meet weekly. The first year they have lectures,
fieldwork and workshops on issues related to women. The second-year focuses
on the development and execution of projects in the women’s home communities.
San’a Watad, program coordinator for the Arab women’s project explained that
Arab and Jewish women don’t meet together due to cultural issues, language
issues and that the goal of the program is no to focus on the differences
between the communities but rather how to raise the level of the women.
Programs are dynamic: as realities
and demands shift, programs change to meet the current needs. Hopefully the
time when Arabs and Jews participate in programs together and allow themselves
to learn from each other and build true friendships is not far away.