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Peace Child Israel, founded in 1988, teaches tolerance and mutual respect to youth through the means of theater and the arts. PCI brings Arab and Jewish youth from inside Israel to work together for eight months, meeting weekly to create a play about coexistence to perform in English, Arabic and Hebrew.

In Jaffa I met with Melice Lewine-Boskovich, the Managing Director of Peace Child since ’93. Through her own transformation from viewing the conflict through one lens to working in the field of peace building, Melice considers herself “walking living proof for the possibility of change” and that with “the right stimuli and circumstances, [change] is possible.”

Peace Child uses “theater as a tool for understanding, awareness raising, and also for changing attitudes among those in the audience who see the plays.”

During the weekly sessions leading up to the performance, the teens start with building a relationship and learning about one another.

Peace Child provides the opportunity for youth, who participate in the program voluntarily, to meet the other who they otherwise would never sit in a room with. “The educational and the living, everything is segregated…They learn about the basic things of each other’s cultures,” says Melice about life in Israel and the PCI program. Through activities of role-play, reverse-role play, sharing personal stories, improvisation, and codependent activities, PCI not only exposes the teens to one another, but teaches them that they’re more alike than they ever thought. Read the rest of this entry »

On a stifling July afternoon in Jaffa, I met with Yael Patir, the Israeli coordinator for the Palestinian Israeli Peace NGO Forum. The Peace NGO Forum is a community of 100 peace and dialogue non-governmental organizations that are registered and operating in cross-border cooperation.  The organizations are both Israeli and Palestinian, including joint organizations that have joint management.

The Forum was founded in 2006 with “the idea to coordinate and create synergy between all these different groups and individuals that are working in the peace building field, as well as create a whole which is greater than its parts and to see how and when and where we can cooperate as a group,” describes Yael. The goal has been to strengthen the impact and voice of these organizations and bring awareness on a regional and international level.

The 100 organizations belonging to the Forum are organized into three groups under the umbrella of the larger initiative of promoting peace and a viable, just solution to the conflict that takes all parties into account. The first subset is “groups that are working today on the ground against the wrongdoings of the occupation. These are human rights organizations, legal aid, advocacy groups. It can be Machsom Watch, that has volunteers stand at checkpoint and monitor the movement and help people with urgent needs and problems…[they] are trying to prevent the situation from becoming worse.”

“The second group is organizations that are promoting a political solution to the conflict. These are organizations that are either political movements, like Peace Now, and Geneva Initiatives, that are actually showing that there are agreements that we can reach,” says Yael. “Usually
all of these organizations work in Palestinian cooperation because it’s very important for both sides to show their constituency that there is a peace camp and there are people who want peace on the other side.” Read the rest of this entry »