DIALOGUE -- where everyone, and all
narratives, are heard side-by-side -- is coming to life.
Palestinians and Jews, hearing each other, want to publish together.
Do they agree on everything? Definitely not.
Do they listen and stick together? Yes!
================ #1 - San Antonio, Texas ================
Mrs. Barbie Gorelick (firstname.lastname@example.org), a shepherd to San Antonio Dialogue writes:
"In today's San Antonio Express-News, a Jewish-American and a Palestinian-American, both members of the Palestinian-Jewish Dialogue of San Antonio, have articles published side-by-side in the Insight Section of the paper.
"There are reasonable, caring and courageous people on both sides of this issue who hold a vision of the possibility of peaceful co-existence between our two peoples.
"Jonathan and Mohammed are two such men."
Palestinians will move forward, because the suffering must stop
By Mohammed Alatar
In the end, Israel's sense of justice and mercy will prevail
By Jonathan Gurwitz (email@example.com)
================ #2 - Old City, Jerusalem ================
First International Seminar for a Palestinian-Israeli School Textbook
Meeting under very difficult conditions in Jerusalem, March 22-24, 2002, Israeli and Palestinian academics gathered to begin fashioning their first cooperative book of history that will be published in side-by-side, parallel-but-separate narratives.
Their meetings and proposed text are in the spirit of authentic Dialogue.
This seminar in the New Imperial Hotel, Old City, describes Professors Bar-On and Adwan, "took place in the midst of the conflict that we have witnessed over the last weeks and months and that has affected us greatly."
This is from the report by:
Sami Adwan. Ph.D., Professor of Education, Bethlehem University (SAdwan@bethlehem.edu)
Dan Bar-On, Ph.D., Professor of Behavioral Sciences, Ben Gurion University (DanBaron@bgumail.bgu.ac.il)
The professors are Co-Directors of:
Peace Research Institute in the Middle East (PRIME)
Some of the teachers could not participate, because they are still mourning their dead friends or relatives, or their lost homes.
Until Thursday afternoon we did not know if the Palestinian teachers would get permits to enter Jerusalem. When we finally got them, some of the teachers were not able to reach the places where these permits have been issued, because they would need permits to get to these places. We called the seminar off several times, but each time found the energy to call it on again, and finally we succeeded to make it happen, almost in full participation.
The Palestinian group included Prof. Adnan Massallam, a history expert from Bethlehem University, and six Palestinian history and geography teachers from Hebron, Bethlehem and East Jerusalem who never before participated in such encounters with Israeli teachers.
The Israeli group included Dr. Eyal Nave, an expert on history textbooks who teaches at Tel Aviv University and at the Kibbutzim Teachers Seminar in Tel Aviv, and six history teachers from high-schools in the center and north of Israel.
The international group included three Ph.D. and an M.A. student who study this year at the Hebrew University, and two peace activists of the International Solidarity Movement who currently live in Ramallah. One Ph.D. student from Ben Gurion University joined the group for the purpose of documentation. The full list of names will soon follow. Some of the participants arrived on Friday afternoon.
We started the first session on Saturday morning with a brief presentation, in which we designed the general idea of a new school textbook that will be composed of two parallel narratives -- an Israeli and a Palestinian -- on the same historical events regarding the conflict.
We suggest such a textbook as we believe that our people are not yet ready to create a single joint narrative, but should recognize and contain the fact that there is an alternative narrative of the other party that has to be acknowledged, accepted and related to.
The idea is not to create a new comprehensive history textbook about the conflict, but to take a few important dates and around them to develop two such narratives.
"The teachers will develop these narratives and try them out with their ninth and tenth grade classrooms, after the book will be translated into Arabic and Hebrew.
There will be an empty space between the narratives for the pupils and teachers to add their own responses.
As we assume with this process that the teachers will first have to go through the experience between themselves. Therefore the most of the first day will be devoted to getting acquainted with each other.
That is what we did in the following sessions: We told each other who we are and where we come from. Then we told each other a personal story behind our names (first and family names). Later in the day we shared personal stories that were related to the conflict and affected by it. A full report of this session will follow.
In the afternoon session Prof. Massallam and Dr. Nave presented their professional historical perspective: Today one does not teach history only through facts but also through the subjective interpretations of these facts and how these are integrated into national and post national collective narratives.
Narratives that try to bring us out of conflicts will have to be based on some level of reconciling with oneself and with the other.
There is the danger that presenting extremely opposing narratives can re-elicit the conflict. There is also the opposite danger that too close narratives of opposing parties will not be accepted by the pupils and teachers as being valid from their own perspective.
In the discussion that followed two important points were made:
1. Both sides try to compete for which one is more the victim and who suffered more. These discussions usually lead nowhere.
2. There is a problem in creating an atmosphere of symmetry in the group, while outside the conflict is asymmetrical, in terms of the power relationship.
After dinner, Dr. Munther Dajani
from Al Quds University gave a lecture on the reasons for the last outbreak of
violence and how the Palestinians envision the possibility of reaching a
sustainable peace in our region. On Sunday we divided
the teachers into three mixed groups (composed of two teachers from each side
and two of the international participants). The groups were supposed to
choose five events of the conflict around which they would like to develop
their narratives and how these narratives should be
formed. Later, the three groups
(represented this time by the international participants) reported about their
choices to the plenary (a detailed report will follow).
It was interesting to note that all three groups started by listing all the events they could think of, and that this list is actually final (including not more than twenty events or periods). After each group explained their choices, we asked them to choose one event or period they would like to work on until the June seminar. They had to coordinate between the three groups so that not all the groups will choose the same event. This brought us to the final list of three events and periods:
1. 1917 - 1921 (the British Mandate, Balfour Declaration, the first violent events of 1921).
2. 1947-8: The partition plan, the 1948 war, creation of the Palestinian refugee problem.
3. The 1987 Intifada and its link to the 1967 war.
Each group had now to prepare a
working plan for how they will communicate and develop their two narratives
(3-4 pages), so that we will all be able to review them together when we meet
again at the end of June. Dr. Nave emphasized the importance that the
narratives should include, in addition to the written text, also elements such
as maps, pictures, stories, poems and other visuals.
We concluded with the general design: In the following seminars some time should be devoted to continuing the process of getting acquainted. We would like to develop our prototype of the book by August, including the translation of the texts into Hebrew and Arabic, so that the teachers will be able to use the first few months of the next school year to experiment with the new book in their classrooms. We would like then to develop two narratives around additional three events.
The June seminar will probably take place in Cyprus or Turkey, and the August seminar will take place again at the New Imperial Hotel. Several teachers asked for an additional seminar by the end of May, to test the developing narratives. This will also to take place in Jerusalem.
We would like to mention that the hospitality of the Hotel team was superb, and that it contributed a lot to the positive atmosphere of this initial seminar.