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Cartooning in Conflict
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04/08/2009

Reconciliation workshop at Beit Jala

Experts from the International Center For Religion and Diplomacy - Straus Institute came specifically to Beit Jala to teach a three-day workshop to PCFF members about reconciliation. The workshop ran May 14-16, 2009.

The International Center is an institution for religious diplomacy, founded on Christian beliefs, which presents workshops around the world. Over the years, they have visited many areas, hosting workshops in places as diverse as Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Syria, etc.

All of the workshops presented by the International Center consist of a serious and in-depth lecture on a specific subject. The participants were surprised by the strict format of the lectures. They were not allowed to ask questions, or discuss the topic, as is usually customary at most PCFF events.  Following every lecture, participants met together in small groups and practiced different dialogue exercises.  Three experts lead the seminar and two women from the institute sat at the back and accompanied every session in prayer.
Throughout the three days, we were presented with eight subjects, without which a process of reconciliation cannot occur, according to ICRD. Among the topics were:   Building Bridges, Demolishing Walls of Hostility, Seeking the Common Good, The Principle of Forgiveness, facing the Truth about History, etc.  In small groups, the participants went through a common journey telling their personal stories, talking about forgiveness, and discussing their personal identity and the national narrative of each side of the conflict.

Reconciliation workshop at Beit Jala

The seminar took place in Talitha Kumi (near Beit Jala). At night the Palestinians invited their Israeli friends for a walk in Bethlehem which ended with a sweet and delicious Kanafeh dessert. The only instruction the Israelis received from the Palestinians was not to speak Hebrew while they were in Bethlehem.

On Friday the 15th of May, Palestinians everywhere marked Nakba Day. At the workshop, the
morning was opened by Boaz Kitaein, a member of the forum and PCFF'S previous CEO. In his words Boaz acknowledged the Palestinians personal and national pain and the Israeli responsibility within the situation.

There were mixed reactions to the workshop. Some of the attendees felt that the Christian religious elements were too dominant. Also, disagreement occurred when Brian, the head lecturer, said it was naive to think that humans can solve conflicts without the help of God. Other participants were disappointed by the lack of PCFF discussion leaders present at the workshop. Some felt that the issues discussed at the workshop were familiar topics to the forum members; however, some felt they received new insight from the seminar and especially benefited from deepening their acquaintance with other PCFF members.

We are grateful to the ICRD for their contribution.
Also, special thanks to the following:
Professional translators who accompanied workshops- Halil Toma, Bader Bader,
Sharon Gistler and Yael Levin.
Equipment manager- Ibrahim Antar
Coordinator- Ariella Shainok
Additional Support - Boaz Kitaein and Nir Yesod
Photo - Roni Hirshinzon

ICRD







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