Eleven Palestinians and thirteen Israelis met in Kibbutz Degania Beit this weekend to participate in the Messengers of Reconciliation project. Messengers of Reconciliation is an ongoing collaborative program between the Department of Social Work at Sapir College, and the PCFF. The Forum’s regular meetings held at the college led to the creation of this seminar which brings Israeli and Palestinian students together in the same group, to discuss reconciliation and peace, and to relate these ideas back to their own communities as well.
Israeli and Palestinian students met this year in Kibbutz Degania Beit for two and a half days of introduction, dialogue and workshops about conflict management. Thursday, after everyone’s arrival, there was an initial introduction, and then the students had a campfire on the beach at the Sea of Galilee.
Friday morning, the students participated in an activity called Reconciliation Circle. An object was passed between the participants, who were only allowed to speak while holding that object. Once holding the object, the person was allowed to either waive their right to speak or talk for as long as they like. The group discussed several terms, including Qassam, Shahid, Zionism, and more.
After lunch, participants went to the chocolate factory in Kibbutz Degania, and had a local ice cream has a dessert.
A ball can be thrown, but with a little creative thinking it could be a hat, sponge and anything else you can imagine. The minute we change our viewpoint on things in life we get to see situations from a different perspective, even painful and complicated situations like the Israeli -Palestinian conflict. We opened the afternoon with Or Barnett and Lior Mencher from the company "Game of Life". Or and Lior are a pair of coordinators who always contributed a fascinating and diverse workshop. Or and Lior specialize in handling conflicts through fun games that generate a positive atmosphere. The goal of their games was to have the students experience some of the issues Messengers of Reconciliation may have to deal with down the road. Some of the games also focused on personal responsibility and taking initiative. Or and Lior reached students immediately through their fascinating workshop.
Roni Hirshenson, the Israeli vice president of the PCFF and one of the Forum founders, moved everybody when he told his personal story about the untimely death of his sons Amir and Elad. Roni also spoke about the documentary "Behind the Intentions" (Director: Ayelet Bargur), A behind-the-scenes documentary film of the PCFF members and making of the series "Good Intentions" (screenplay: Ronit Weiss Berkowitz, Director Uri Barabash), which was created at the initiative of the Forum in order to create acquaintance and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.
In the evening, the campers were given free time to play games.
Human kind gave up on stability when it developed into biped. As bipeds we are most stable when standing on two legs rather than on one. On Saturday morning, Tal Goldberg, one of the students at Sapir College, specializing in the Feldenkrais Method, gave a workshop on stability. He showed participants how every step we take makes us lose stability because one leg is in the air. However, in order for a person to move forward, we must give up some stability. This carried the implication about the changes each party needs to make in order for peace to be possible.
The Seminar ended with a speech made by Ali Abu Awwad about a common vision for peace, followed by the closing.
We thank the coordinators: Ariella Shainok, Mazen Faraj, Nir Yesod and Ali Abu Awwad. We thank Roni Hirshenson, Tal Goldberg, Vered Weinberger, Dr. Merav Ben Moshe Grodofsky, Dr. Julia Chaitin, Lior Mencher and Or Barnett, Kibbutz Degania Beit.
This seminar was supported by World Vision.
Sharon Kalimi Misheiker
Translation: Kaitlin conklin
Photography: Adi Ashkenazi
Read More: Academia Promotes a Culture of Peace (2008)