So much global emotion is invested in the Israeli-Arab conflict that sometimes the progress being made on the ground in Israel can be missed. Regardless of the position of governments and international organizations, small organizations are working hard to make sure that Israeli Jews, Arabs and Palestinians continue to interact and focus on each other’s commonalities. These special organizations take advantage of the similarities within the differences and promote unity on the individual level.
One such organization, the Interfaith Encounter Association, looks at religion as a solution, not a cause, for the conflicts that exist between Israel’s different societies. The Association organizes encounters between people from different cultural and faith backgrounds to join encounter groups. These sometimes take the form of weekend retreats, special discussions between women about their shared experiences, programs for children and even attempts to create peace between the two peoples on a personal level.
Another approach taken by The Equalizer takes advantage of the entire region’s shared love of soccer to create an opportunity for interaction between people of different backgrounds. Kids from 4th to 10th grade receive the opportunity to play in tournaments and receive training in the sport they love in exchange for their commitment to behaving and working hard in school. During the tournaments, teams from around Israel play against and get to know each other, reducing some of the mystery around the “other”.
Hand in Hand created a network of schools that are bilingual and multicultural. The schools help Israeli and Arab children interact with each other at a young age helping to create bonds that can lead to long term trust. The schools receive full funding from the Israeli Ministry of Education and present a model for schools to overcome the divide between the two societies. Similarly, Merchavim creates programming for Jewish and Arab children to create art together, learn each other’s languages and for older students to discuss their lives with each other.
These are just a few of the amazing programs that help to bring us together. Visit Jgive.com to find more such organizations and never forget that there are always shared bonds to discover when we just interact with another.