More educators helping

Jews, Muslims, Christians learn together

Thursday, 04 January 2007


"People dont get along because they fear each other.

People fear each other because they dont know each other.

They dont know each other because they have not properly communicated with each other."

        -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

These three Stories are about a new quality of communication and education.

        * Middle school Jewish, Muslim and Christian students in Florida        
        * Scholars communicate and learn between Palestine, Israel, U.S.
        * University Arab and Jewish professors share teaching a class

Enact, encourage and support
these kinds of human endeavors however you can.

                        - L&L

Middle school Jewish, Muslim and Christian
students in Florida

     Middle school youth in Florida are brought together to learn of each other's faith paths and explore possibilities for peace.
     Students from three schools -- Muslim, Jewish and Christian -- each  year are invited  to write about their worries, views of conflicts, closing distances between people, ending war and building a future together. 

                The Muslim Academy of Central Florida --
                The Hebrew Day School of Central Florida --
                Orangewood Christian School --

     A writing competition is sponsored by The Olive Trees Foundation -- .
     These Christians, Muslims and Jews based in Orlando, Florida have also funded 30,000 olive trees, now deeply rooted and thriving in The Holy Land: Isreal and Palestine.
     The group has accomplished all this since its birth in 2003, as their response to global violence.

     Past years' contests requested essays and poetry.  This year the youth will be asked for short stories.
     The papers are read aloud, students affirmed, and prizes awarded at a closing ceremony.
     Request more information from Louise Franklin Sheehy ( ).
    Read some essays written by students at:

Scholars communicate and learn
between Palestine, Israel, U.S.

    LIVING JERUSALEM has brought together scholars, students, and community leaders from Israel, Palestine and the United States.
     They addressed the convergence of international security and cultural identity in Jerusalem and lands that mean so much to each community.

     Educator-participant Galit Hasan-Rokem described it as "an exciting cooperation between:
        The Ohio State University (U.S.) --
        Al-Quds University (Palestinian) --
        The Hebrew University (Israeli) --

     Galit said: "We co-taught by video-conferencing, blogs and website a course on the folklore of Jerusalem.
     "It was amazing and exciting but also painful that sometimes due to the Wall of Separation.
     "The two kilometers between our two Jerusalem universities are as big a distnace as between each of us and Columbus, Ohio.
     "On the other hand we also experienced how modern media, if combined with a lot of good will and some daring, can build bridges."

     The "daring" and much of the vision of LIVING JERUSALEM came from educator Amy Horowitz of Ohio State University.
     This project has been Amy's my dream since 1991, when she championed the idea at the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and
Cultural Heritage.
     That year in the early '90s, an event that captured her imagination a continent away was the historic 1991 "Building A Common Future" 
conference of Israeli and Palestinian citizen-leaders in the California redwoods.
     She was inspired from a distance by the relationship-building, then creativity, of those Palestinians and Israelis who that week wrote and
     It called for citizen engagement, if an authentic peace process was to succeed.
     Horowitz spoke about the basis for her LIVING JERUSALEM project.
    "The principle is this: beyond treaties and political arguments is something deeper. 
     "It is learning about the culture -- the people and daily lives -- of each other. 
     "This is the forgotten, untapped resource for dialogue. 
  "What do we sing, cook with, pray, laugh, cry, and dream about? 
     "What are our healing practices?"

     This November, 2006, participants convened to discuss sustained activity -- a  cooperative book, as well as the continuation of this teaching

     To learn more, you contact Amy Horowitz ( ), Faculty of the College of Humanities, Ohio State University.


University Arab and Jewish professors
share teaching a class

      This story about an innovative university teaching model is exactly one year old. 
     Convincing is today's e-mail about its continuity, from one of the creators and instructors, Shai Feldman ( ) .
      "We just completed teaching the course again this fall (2006) and we expect to teach it for the third time during the fall of 2007."

Published The Jewish Week (New York) -- 05 January 2006

Mideast Balancing Act, In The Classroom

A team-taught course at Brandeis by three scholars Israeli, Egyptian and Palestinian

bucks a trend and offers a lesson in how to discuss the thorny conflict.

Penny Schwartz

     Excerpts follow:

     Farrah Bdour couldnt have been more skeptical when she stepped into the Conflict and Peacemaking in the Middle East in September.
     The 14-week seminar, what may have been the first of its kind in the country, brought a trio of Middle East scholars one Israeli, one Palestinian and one Egyptian here to Brandeis University to team teach a multilayered course on the regions combustible politics.
     Bdour, a junior from Amman, Jordan, had her doubts that the course would genuinely reflect the different perspectives of the region. But the reading list was the first sign the experimental course would be demanding and that a variety of perspectives would be explored, she noted in a phone conversation in late December shortly after turning in her final paper. The 18-page course syllabus included 13 required texts ranging from Palestinian nationalist Edward Said to Israeli diplomat Abba Eban to post-Zionist historian Benny Morris several weekly periodical reading assignments and a suggested further reading list.
     We all shared a lot of myths about the different wars, and for the most part, we came in with different views, Bdour said of the 23 students in the class. But she said she came away feeling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be analyzed and resolved. We all came with certain attachments to the region, but this taught us to think in more depth.
     I can honestly say it could not get any more balanced, Bdour said.
     At a time when Middle East studies programs often are mired in accusations of bias, the new course at Brandeis may be bucking a trend. The three scholars who brought to life three different perspectives, all within the four walls of one classroom are hoping to prove that its possible to study the volatile, complex region without drawing lines in the sand and playing the blame game.
     Said Aly, who has written extensively about the Arab world in both English and Arabic, is director of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, a prestigious think tank, and the largest in the Arab world; (Khalil) Shikaki, director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, has conducted more than 100 public opinion polls among Palestinians since 1993.
     Steven Bayme, director of contemporary Jewish life for the American Jewish Committee. . . praised the goals of the Brandeis course as the most effective antidote to increased politicization of the subject matter.
     (Israeli Amit) Saar said that a similar course for Israeli and Palestinian students would be most effective because this is a course that makes you ... reconsider all the things you are taught about the conflict.
     In fact, Shikaki wrote that his center and Tel Aviv University are launching a three-year cooperative venture, which will alternate Israeli professors teaching Palestinian students, journalists and public officials, with Palestinian professors teaching Israelis.
     Said Aly wrote in a follow-up e-mail We developed with the students how an Israeli and an Arab are capable of developing a better understanding of highly complicated historical, strategic and geopolitical narratives."