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Building Bridges : Chapter 2 - The Encounter Approach

The Israeli programs using the encounter approach typically bring participants together for relatively short-term, intense sessions in which they address their similarities and differences.

The School for Peace is unique because it is located in Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, a village where Jews and Arabs have chosen to build a community together. Beyond the day-to-day coexistence of the villagers, the school also offers several programs to promote familiarity between youths and adults who otherwise rarely mix. The School has developed a training course for facilitators of encounters that has already been adapted for use in other countries.

Helping the Helpers is a different type of program, designed to train mental health professionals in intervention techniques to treat war-affected and traumatized children. The Carmel Institute brought Croats, Muslims and Serbs from the former Yugoslavia together for workshops that have possible applications for American psychiatrists and psychologists, teachers, doctors, professors and sociologists working with at-risk children.

Immigrants often have a particularly difficult time coexisting with "veterans." Like the United States, Israel is a melting pot with people from every corner of the globe. In recent years, a huge influx of immigrants has come from the former Soviet Union and faced difficulties overcoming cultural and emotional isolation. Invitation to a Dialogue, developed by the Joint Distribution Committee, uses a computer network, combined with face-to-face meetings, to reduce the isolation felt by teenagers.

Pelech Religious Experimental High School for Girls has created a program called Education for Peace, which uses techniques similar to many other programs to bring together Arabs and Jews. What makes this program unusual is that the Israeli school that started the encounters is a religious school. Generally, the "religious" schools in Israel have been reluctant to engage in dialogues with other groups. The program could be a model for promoting greater tolerance among Americans attending parochial and public schools.

Encounter programs are typically short, ranging from a day to a few months. Givat Haviva's Children Teaching Children, one of the most widely used programs bringing Arabs and Jews together in schools, is an exception. It is designed to last two years and thereby create bonds of trust between students and teachers. Furthermore, by integrating the program into the school day, the pursuit of coexistence becomes an accepted part of the curriculum.

The School for Peace


Nava Sonnenchein
The School for Peace
Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam
Doar Na Shimshon 99761
Tel. 2-916-282, Fax. 2-912-098


To deepen the participants' familiarity with themselves and with the other side.

To raise the participants' awareness of the complex reality of relations between the sides, and to enable them to absorb this complexity.

To make the participants aware of their ability to select their attitude toward the conflict, to affect their lives and their surroundings and thus to help mitigate the conflict.

To bring the participants to choose nondiscriminatory positions and modes of behavior and to give legitimacy to all peoples' needs, rights and aspirations.

To give the participants an opportunity to experience cooperation between the sides.

Target Population:

Seventeen-year-old Arabs and Jews

Program and Activities:

Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam (NS/WAS) is a village in Israel in which Jews and Arabs have chosen to build a community together and to face questions of coexistence in their day-to-day lives. Situated in the center of the country, between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the life and work of the community are guided by its determination to give equal expression to the national and religious identities of the two peoples. With this as its base, the village conducts activities that strive to advance understanding between the conflicting nations. The School for Peace (SFP) is the branch of NS/WAS that is responsible for most of the village's outreach programs.

SFP conducts educational projects that bring together Jewish and Arab citizens — youth and adults — from all over Israel, in an attempt to promote familiarity and understanding between the two peoples. To date, 13,000 teenagers and adults have taken part in these activities.

Since 1980, the SFP has been developing long-term workshop models that enable facilitators to address the changing social and political realities of the region, and the differing problems and needs of the two peoples. The methodology is based on models of nonformal education, on conflict resolution workshop models using a third-party consultation format and on structured group processes. The content of the workshops is based on the personal experience of the participants.

The structure of the SFP, and of its workshops is guided by the principles of equality. The staff of facilitators is a permanent, professional team composed of Jews and Arabs. Decisions are made democratically. The workshops are conducted in Hebrew and Arabic. Each working group is small and is headed by two facilitators, one Jewish and the other Palestinian. Part of the workshop is conducted in a "uninational" group setting (all Jewish / all Arab) to provide a secure, sheltered framework that can meet each group's separate learning needs. Numerical equality between Jews and Arabs is maintained throughout the workshop, and each people's needs are given equal priority.

SFP uses the encounter as the major experience of the project. The realities of Israel do not give the youth of the two peoples a chance to meet on equal terms. The encounters that take place are generally accompanied by feelings of fear, humiliation, disappointment and distrust. The encounters provide an opportunity to process and understand these feelings, helping youth to cope with the Jewish-Arab conflict.

One key to the program is the use of both Arabic and Hebrew in the workshops. Hebrew is the dominant language in Israel (though Arabic is also an official language). While most Arabs are bilingual, most Jews do not have a command of Arabic. At the age of 17 (the age of workshop participants), the Arabs' active command of Hebrew is limited, but they generally understand the Jews and can express themselves in simple matters.

Language is at the base of one's national identity. Just as language creates bridges and ties between people, it can be an obstacle to contact. For example, Arab participants sometimes choose to speak Arabic and have the facilitator interpret for them, even though they are capable of expressing themselves in Hebrew. Jewish participants might choose to speak quickly and use a lot of slang, making it hard for the Arabs to follow the conversation. The participants' choice of words can also be provocative without them realizing it. The classic example is when Jews speak of Palestinian "fighters" or "terrorists."

The use of two languages in the encounters has several consequences:

• Discussions proceed slowly; the participants must develop patience and tolerance.

• Members of the majority group, who do not understand the language of the minority, are given an opportunity to experience situations that are generally typical of the minority: the feeling of being a stranger, of not belonging, of having no influence, of depending on an interpreter. Familiarity with this experience increases the majority's ability to "step into the shoes" of the minority and empathize with situations that the minority experiences every day.

• Suspicions arise on both sides, especially among the Jews: What are they saying? Did the facilitator translate accurately? This is an opportunity for facilitators to raise the issue of trust.

• Should the Arab participants choose to speak Hebrew, they do so hesitantly. The facilitator's job in such a case is to encourage them and to create a supportive atmosphere in the group.

• The Arab facilitators have to double as interpreters. In especially emotional parts of the program it is important for facilitators to encourage participants to speak their mother language. In certain cases, the responsibility for interpreting can be passed on to the group; the Arabs speak Arabic and then translate their own words into Hebrew. When the interpreter is translating someone else's words, they make an effort to speak in the first person.

Workshops begin with separate all-Jewish and all-Arab groups, in which the participants get to know themselves, the other group members and their own people. "Getting acquainted" includes:

• Exchanging information between group members: hobbies, way of life, traits, dreams.

• Acquaintance with processes that participants experience in the workshop: curiosity, fear of self-expression, the desire to be right, the need to influence.

• Acquaintance with methods of communication and dialogue that precede the encounter: giving empathy, active listening, articulation of feelings, refraining from giving advice and voicing accusations, avoiding generalizations.

The intensity of the encounter and the experience of meeting members of the other people creates tension and fear, in addition to curiosity and interest. NS/WAS has found that clear rules, within a framework known in advance, help the youngsters cope with these emotions. The following elements of the workshop contribute to this security:

• A schedule.

• A permanent room for each group's activities.

• Conformance with school rules and Ministry of Education guidelines; e.g., no smoking and separate sleeping accommodations for boys and girls.

• Guests (teachers or observing facilitators) are introduced and confined to a role of passive participation outside the circle of group activities.

• Description of the roles of the other staff members ("unknown faces" may arouse suspicion).

• Maintaining the same combination of facilitators and small groups throughout the project.

Since Jews and Arabs live and work together at NS/WAS, the public regards the village as belonging to both peoples. As the meeting place is not identified exclusively with either one of the sides in the conflict, every participant feels equally at home there. This makes it possible to create a supportive atmosphere, in which neither side suffers a disadvantage and both may feel at ease.

NS/WAS selects students for the program with a high level of motivation to participate and a large degree of influence among their peers. They work with high schools, which, as part of the establishment, validates their activities. The schools also provide a framework to hold activities during school hours, which reinforces the message that the subject is as important as anything else in the curriculum. They try to match schools with similar academic levels, socioeconomic status, and students who have been similarly exposed to nonformal social and political activities. Without the teachers' support, students find it hard to decide in favor of attending the workshops and, afterward, to maintain the change they have undergone.

NS/WAS found that short-term encounter activities were not only ineffective, but were even capable of reinforcing stereotypes and causing participants to reject further involvement with each other; consequently, each project is conducted over a period of three to six months. They have three models:

Model A (six months)

1) Ten 2-hour uninational workshops conducted with each group in their respective high schools.

2) 3-day encounter workshop, conducted with the two groups together in NS/WAS.

3) 2-hour uninational workshop in the high schools of each group to summarize the project.

Model B (three months)

1) Two 2-hour uninational workshops conducted with each group in their respective high schools.

2) 3-day encounter workshop, conducted with the two groups together in NS/WAS.

3) 2-hour uninational workshop in the high schools.

4) Second 3-day encounter workshop in NS/WAS.

Model C (three months)

1) 2-hour uninational workshop conducted with each group in their high schools.

2) 2-day uninational workshop, conducted separately with each group in NS/WAS.

3) 2-hour uninational workshop in the high schools.

4) 3-day encounter workshop with the two groups in NS/WAS.

The Uninational Forum

The program assumes that the better a person knows himself or herself, the more capable they are of making contact, establishing relations and getting to know others. The uninational workshop is part of the educational process in which questions concerning the conflict are broached and serves as a preparatory stage for the binational encounter workshop. All uninational activity is led by facilitators belonging to the same national group: Jewish facilitators for the Jewish group and Arab facilitators for the Arab group. The uninational forum enables the participants to work out problems and questions that arise without the inhibitions of facing the other side. Topics of discussion include:

• Working through some of the fears of meeting the other group.

• Development of tolerance for differences in the group.

• Gaining knowledge about the conflict.

• Assessing the degree to which we are responsible for the situation.

• Assessing our responsibility to act and change.

• Gaining of group-work skills.

• Working through participants' distress caused by past contact with Jews or Arabs.

The first encounter workshop, participants are divided into mixed groups of 12-14 Jews and Arabs. The composition of the groups remains the same for the duration of the project. Most of the encounter activities take place in this forum. Some of the less intensive ones take place in a large group with all the participants together.

Before the second workshop, a uninational meeting is conducted with the groups in their schools. The following issues commonly arise:

• Participants talk about the change they underwent in the first workshop, especially with respect to preconceived notions — ideas about the other group that the encounter disproved.

• Participants describe encounters they had with friends, classmates and family after the first workshop.

• Some participants have mixed feelings about attending the second workshop because of disappointment with what they saw and heard in the first one. Some have trouble coping with the process and method of the workshop. Some are afraid of being disillusioned and prefer not to risk ruining a good experience they may have already had. Some feel threatened by the open-mindedness they need for the rest of the project and by the prospect of delving deeper into the issues than they had in the first workshop.

In the second workshop, the groups search for new possibilities of dialogue. After experiencing the harshness of the dispute and their own disagreements, participants search for additional ways to relate, such as sharing more personal experiences, daring to show vulnerabilities, or the ability to represent oneself and not just one's people. The groups concentrate on what is happening "here and now" and cope with the tension between the desire to be open, get closer, and intensify relations, and the fear of getting close and revealing too much. At this point, the group's parting is on the horizon, and the participants feel that time and opportunities are running out. In general, participants find they had some of the following opportunities:

• To discuss issues close to their hearts in a binational setting, which is extremely rare for them.

• To hear how the other side perceives and is affected by the same realities.

• To discover what happens to them in an encounter with members of the majority or minority.

• To reexamine and reformulate values and political opinions.

• To make friends.

• To gauge their ability to have influence in the group, the surroundings and the society.

• To acquire additional communication tools.

• To experience the complexity of relations between Jews and Arabs.

• To have the security to expose their vulnerability to the other side.


Efforts must be made to balance language inequalities.

Clear rules, within a framework known in advance, are important.

A meeting place that is not identified exclusively with either side of the conflict will make participants feel more comfortable.

Highly motivated students who will influence their peers are the ideal participants.

Working with schools legitimates the program.

Holding programs during the school day reinforces the idea that coexistence is as important as any other subject.

Teachers' support is vital to encouraging student participation and supporting the changes resulting from the program.

The projects help to develop the participants' ability to appreciate the complexity of the conflict and not to see it as a problem with simple solutions. As such, the work helps to neutralize extremism.

Opportunities for Cooperation:

A 160-hour training course for facilitators of encounters between Jews and Arabs has been developed that has been adapted for use in other countries. It has already been used in Northern Ireland and in Italy to deal with the conflict between Italians and foreign workers.

Helping the Helpers


Dr. Helena Syna De Sevilia
Carmel Institute for Social Studies
5 Kadesh St., P.O. Box 97
Zikhron Ya'akov 30900
Tel. 06-396818, Fax. 06-397085
E-mail: [email protected]


To train mental health professionals in intervention techniques to treat war-affected and traumatized children.

Target Population:

Mental health professionals.

Program and Activities:

While most Israeli projects in conflict resolution have focused on Arab-Jewish tensions, one interesting program was applied to problems in the former Yugoslavia. In 1993, the Chief Imam of Sarajevo sent a letter to a Jewish charity in England describing how mental health professionals were being overwhelmed in their efforts to give trauma relief and crisis intervention treatment to the children, refugees and the population in general who were victims of the brutal war. The Imam believed the Jewish people, specifically Israeli psychologists, were probably best equipped to help, since they had developed techniques to treat victims of the Holocaust and the numerous wars and terrorist attacks in Israel. This request made its way to the Carmel Institute, which developed the "Helping the Helpers" Seminar, a two-week intensive training program.

Even before the Dayton Accords, the Institute was able to bring Croats, Muslims and Serbs together for workshops to train mental health professionals in intervention techniques to treat war-affected and traumatized children. The participants included psychiatrists and psychologists, teachers, doctors, professors, sociologists and librarians.

Two seminars were conducted, followed by several in-country workshops called the "Expanding Circles" in which the "graduates" of the Israeli program conducted smaller seminars to convey what they had learned to a broader circle of local professionals. The Israeli model subsequently became the standard training method of mental health professionals in the country.

"Helping the Helpers" was initially designed for mental health professionals who had been compelled to take on the almost impossible mission of providing nonstop treatment to war-affected and traumatized children. It is presently well recognized that unusually traumatic situations such as disaster, acts of violence and various war-induced stresses usually result in chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. Children are particularly vulnerable to traumatic stress.

The seminars were based on the Community Oriented Preventive Orientation (C.O.P.E.) concept of Dr. Ofra Ayalon. C.O.P.E. is a handbook for promoting coping skills, and is geared to help children manage stressful events of everyday life and with emergencies caused by the disruption of social equilibrium and security. The premise is that distress caused by death, separation, threats to health, pain and loneliness can be mitigated. Furthermore, stress can be alleviated by channeling the children's energies toward gaining more control over their environment, facilitating expression and communication of fears and worries and helping them find the support and muster the courage that will turn them from passive victims into action modifiers of their own lives.

The seminar was aimed at teaching skills and promoting professional self-assurance. The main components of the program were:

• Theoretical and Conceptual Inputs: related to stress and trauma, children of families in trauma and crisis intervention.

• Expressive Methods: including biblio-therapy, puppet-theater therapy, video-therapy and various art-therapy methods.

• Relaxation and Treatment Methods: including relaxation techniques, pacing and leading, eye-movement desensitization.

• Coping and Appraisal: BASIC-Ph model, cognitive approaches to stress and burn-out.

• "Helping the Helpers" Aspects: including psychological debriefings, systems approach, creating support systems.

• Self-Guided Sessions: including skill-sharing, case-studies and C.O.P.E. project.

The participants came from separate, perhaps hostile regions of the former Yugoslavia; nevertheless, the group developed a "learning organization" motivated to absorb as much as possible for back-home applications. Participants learned to overcome inner conflicts and inter-subgroup tensions and gradually became a cohesive group. The seminars also strengthened the professional self-confidence of the participants by enriching their previous knowledge and skills.

A third seminar in the series was subsequently held in Hungary. This Integrative Seminar included the goals of the earlier ones, that is, providing advanced professional training in the areas of trauma-relief and crisis intervention, and enabling skill sharing. This three-day program also was designed to facilitate reconciliation perceptions and conflict-resolution orientation; to promote awareness of violent and demonic behavior; to encourage openness and readiness for coexistence between currently opposing rivals; to discuss and illuminate the role of mental health professionals in these areas and to enable participants from the conflicting regions to have open discussions.


The C.O.P.E. concept can be geared to help children manage stress.

The self-confidence of mental health professionals can be enhanced by providing new skills.

Inter-group conflicts among professionals can be overcome to advance a common goal.

Opportunities for Cooperation:

The training program for mental health professionals in crisis intervention and trauma relief can be applied to work with at-risk children in, for example, gang-infested areas. The Carmel Institute has experience working with American organizations and is anxious to cooperate in the development of joint programs and to train U.S. educators and health professionals.

Invitation to a Dialogue


Moshe Sharir, Director of Division for Special Projects and Initiatives
Dimitri Virovitz, Project Coordinator
POB 3489
Jerusalem 91034
Tel. 2-655-7167, Fax. 2-661-244
E-mail. [email protected]


To create a social and emotional support network for young immigrants from the former Soviet Union (FSU) struggling to cope with the difficulties of adjustment to their new life in Israel.

To reduce the cultural and emotional isolation experienced by many teenage immigrants, help them become more familiar with life in Israel and integrate into their new environment.

Target Population:

Young immigrants (ages 14-18) from the FSU at locations throughout Israel, members of Na'aleh groups (teenagers who have come to study in high school in Israel without their families) and groups of young Israelis.

Program and Activities:

The nature of Israeli society over the coming decades will be shaped by how successfully the recent waves of immigrants from the FSU integrate within it. Invitation to Dialogue creates a social and emotional support network for young immigrants from the FSU who are struggling to cope with the traumas of their social and cultural adjustment to life in Israel.

The numerous stresses and difficulties of the immigration process are particularly problematic for the adolescent. All immigrants must confront the need for personal adjustment to their new environment. This includes the cognitive and emotional adjustments to learning to communicate in a new language and adapt to a new set of social norms, as well as a redefinition of their cultural identity.

The adolescent, who is any case undergoing the universal transition between childhood and adulthood leading to upheavals in their relationships with their families, their peers and the outside world in general, is particularly vulnerable to the additional transition of immigration. The need to identify with a peer group is especially strong for this age cohort, so the language and cultural barriers compound their difficulties.

The adolescent immigrant is also deeply affected by family crises often caused by the immigration process, such as material and financial hardship and a shift in social status. The growing numbers of young immigrants who are dropping out of school and, in some cases, drifting into delinquent behavior is an indication of the gravity of the situation in Israel.

The project has set up groups of young immigrants, Na'aleh groups and young Israelis at community centers, residential schools and clubs for immigrant youth throughout Israel. The groups meet once or twice a week with a counselor who speaks their language and shares their cultural background. Group activities include discussion on issues of mutual interest, leadership courses and journalism.

All the groups are linked by a computer network through which they can correspond both as individuals or as a group. The network offers them the opportunity to express themselves in their own language, Russian. They also have the option of using either Hebrew or English (the capability to set up World Wide Web pages in Russian, Hebrew and English will soon be added).

The participants can also correspond with more veteran adult immigrants who serve as supportive role models for successful integration into the new environment and also lead specific activities. These adult professionals currently include a psychologist, a journalist and an educator. In addition to the electronic meetings, groups or group representatives meet periodically in person.

In addition to serving as the vehicle to carry the dialogue, the computer network fulfills a number of other important functions. Through their familiarity with the network, the young participants are acquiring skills in the use of advanced information technologies that will aid in their personal and professional development. This, together with the general high-status aura of computers, helps to initially attract the youngsters to the project activities.


The approach is proving helpful across two social/cultural barriers in the project: between immigrant groups and Israeli groups, and between different immigrant groups.

When communicating through a computer network rather than meeting face to face, most characteristics on which social groups build stereotypes of other groups (physical appearance, dress, mannerisms, accent) are hidden. This allows the youngsters to create relationships and "listen" to each other. After the relationships are formed, the participating groups have face-to-face meetings with people they already know and appreciate for whom they really are.

The prevalence of verbal and physical violence in contacts between teenagers of different cultural backgrounds, particularly boys, is well known. A number of incidents of violence have been reported between immigrants from different regions and between Israelis and immigrants. The project combats this by bringing together marginal youth who learn to "talk" to their peers through the computer.

Opportunities for Cooperation:

JDC is already involved in projects around the world and has offices in the United States. It is very interested in collaborative projects and this program could be easily adapted for use with new immigrants to America. JDC is also involved in another program that brings immigrants and veteran Israeli youth together for joint activities.

Education for Peace


Shira Breuer
Pelech Religious Experimental High School for Girls
14 Gideon St.
Jerusalem 93506
Tel. 2-736945, Fax. 2-732703


To provide in-depth knowledge and analysis of the Middle East conflict and the peace process through class hours and individual student research.

To foster open-minded attitudes toward differing cultures and opinions.

To create a non-political platform for open discussion of the universalistic, humanist values of peace; promote awareness of human rights issues, particularly of minorities and provide insight into Arab culture and customs.

To initiate a dialogue between Jewish and Arab youth and break down stereotypical views.

To foster democratic principles of mutual respect, tolerance and understanding.

Target Population:

Jewish girls in the 10th, 11th and 12th grades of Pelech, and Arabs in the 12th grade of the Abu Gosh High Schools.

Program and Activities:

The Pelech High School has an enrollment of 250 students from a wide range of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Pelech aims to provide the highest standard of Jewish and secular education that encourages a pluralistic, humanistic, democratic approach. It seeks to inculcate a strong sense of Jewish identity, love of Israel and communal responsibility. Emphasis is placed on professional excellence for religious women and their changing role in society.

The Education for Peace program is now in its third year and now concentrates on the Middle East peace process and the Palestinian autonomy. Originally, Pelech held joint meetings with the Terra Sancta School in Jaffa. During the 1995-96 academic year, the project began to work with Abu Gosh High School.

The project is divided into units:

I) Study of democracy and human rights (Grade 10 — two weekly hours) — examines civil liberties from a Jewish perspective; introduces legal systems; freedom of expression; censorship; sexual equality; minority rights; racism; human dignity; social rights.

II) Conflict and Conflict Resolution (Grade 11 — two weekly hours) — provides extensive information on the Middle East conflict and aims to foster in-depth understanding of the political, legal, social and philosophical elements. Examination of all documentation relating to the peace process. Methodology consists of class debate, guest lectures, audiovisual aids, communications research and meetings with persons who differ ethnically, religiously and politically.

III) Arab Culture and Customs (Grade 11 — one weekly hour) — provides an insight into Arab society, beliefs and customs with an emphasis on the role of women, an overview of Arab media and communications to include: newspapers, theater, films. Includes a tour to an Arab village, Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam (see pg. 18) and a meeting with a prominent Arab woman.

IV) Exchange visits with students of the Abu Gosh High School (Grade 12 — two weekly hours) — planning of meetings between students of the Abu Gosh High School and 12th grade Pelech students. Non-coercive policy by the school includes a personal interview with each student. Intensive preparation by faculty of both schools and joint a student committee.


This program is one of the few, if not the only, program that involves the dati (religious) community and therefore may serve as a good model for working with American religious and secular schools and resolving issues related to religious tolerance.

Opportunities for Cooperation:

The Pelech school is open to exchanges and sharing its experience working within the Israeli religious community.

Children Teaching Children


Shuli Dichter
Children Teaching Children
Givat Haviva
M.P. Menashe 37850
Tel. 6-309-249/373-336, Fax. 6-373-335


To promote an educational environment conducive to openness and to personal growth of both teachers and pupils and the development of a dialogue within the context of an ongoing conflict.

Target Population:

Jewish and Arab students in grades five to nine, adults and teachers.

Program and Activities:

In 1949, the founders of Givat Haviva recognized the need to build a place where Jews and Arabs could meet in safety to discuss their many problems. It was felt that with patience and understanding they could help plan a future of democratic coexistence among all the people of Israel.

Givat Haviva runs a number of programs to advance this goal. The program that is probably most applicable to the United States, and also one of Givat Haviva's fastest growing, is Children Teaching Children (CTC).

Based on theories of humanistic education and conflict resolution, Givat Haviva's staff of Arab and Jewish educators believe that through dialogue and creative encounters, children can overcome negative stereotypes they have about each other. For most of the students that participate in CTC, this encounter is the first opportunity for meaningful personal contact with members of the other community. Now in the seventh year of operation, CTC has been approved by the Israel Ministry of Education to be introduced into the regular school day. The program is used in 30 schools throughout Israel, with 1,400 students and 80 teachers participating.

The class is divided into groups of 12-16 pupils, with one teacher and usually two assistants. Each class has a weekly two-hour lesson. After 1-3 months of preparation, the class begins a series of fortnightly encounters with its parallel group. In each encounter, mixed groups of 24-32 pupils are formed, so that two or three mixed classes work with two teachers each. The week when there is no mixed learning session is devoted both to the assimilation of the previous week's meeting through discussion, or activity focused on some of its specific aspects, as well as to preparation for the coming week.

Preparation Stage: This takes place in homeroom and is aimed at preparing for the mixed group. The participation of the children in planning and organizing is a precondition to success. Subjects such as conformism, stereotypes and social pressure are discussed, as well as the legitimacy of expressing emotions, the creation of an atmosphere of acceptance in the group and the ability to give attention and awareness to different points of view about any event or subjects.

Mixed Group Experience: The content is decided jointly by the pupils and the teachers during the preparatory period. This may include language studies; art projects; theater and dramatic expression; formal school subjects such as geography, agriculture and computers; or social issues, such as the characteristics of adolescence of both groups, relations between adults and children and school culture. Students are encouraged to communicate with their counterparts through storytelling, drama, art, music and other media. The students are encouraged to think about, and openly discuss complex questions of identity. Through dialogue and shared activity, they confront and conquer their own stereotypes, prejudices, fears and anxieties.

The learning process takes place on two levels — that of the teachers and that of the pupils. The program is perceived and accepted as an integral part of the school curriculum, and not as an external subject. Teachers' workshops and parents' meetings are an important and dynamic part of the CTC program. Throughout the school year, the teaching and supervisory staff participates in 12 in-service training days, and meet once each week to plan activities and share ideas, experiences and problems. Teachers attend summer workshops for 10 days. The first is an encounter workshop. A second one is devoted to the role of the teacher in the program. During the academic year, teachers gather for day-long workshops. In addition, teachers participate in biweekly team meetings with teachers from the twin school and with their colleagues in the program. CTC thereby creates a growing core of teachers who have acquired new tools and gained significant experience in the sphere of the two major objectives of the program.

CTC is a two-year program with the possibility of concluding it at the end of the first year or extending it beyond two years. While homeroom work concentrates on specific and largely different needs of the groups, the work in the mixed groups tries to answer common needs. The creation of a basis for mutual trust between teachers and teachers, between teachers and pupils and between pupils and pupils is the primary objective and a necessary condition for a continued operation of the program.


CTC emphasizes long-term conflict resolution. Once students have been paired with counterparts from another class, they maintain the same Jewish or Arab partner throughout the entire school year, leading to greater understanding and lasting friendships between participants.

Because CTC functions within the Israeli and Arab school systems, ongoing multiyear programs that reinforce a consistent commitment to improving cross-cultural relations are possible.

The program is integrated into the school curriculum, making participation mandatory and reinforcing the idea that coexistence is as important as any other subject.

Without a clear statement of acceptance from the principal followed by symbolic and real expressions toward the participants in the program, the chances of success are minimized.

Students are not rushed into meetings. A long period (1-3 months) is devoted to preparation.

Students are intimately involved in preparation for the meetings and the content is determined jointly by Jews and Arabs.

Projects cover a range of activities, from formal school subjects to arts projects to discussions of social issues.

Although children are the program's main focus, the teachers, school administrators and parents also benefit from CTC. These adults face similar challenges associated with the implementation of a cross-cultural education project in a society sharply divided along ethnic lines. Givat Haviva views this as an opportunity to spread the program's central message of coexistence beyond the classroom and into Jewish and Arab homes and communities.

Opportunities for Cooperation:

Givat Haviva has already provided its expertise in conflict resolution to other countries and has a proposal to hold a 2-3 week non-intensive seminar to train teachers and/or community workers. A handbook has also been developed for teaching CTC in English.

Givat Haviva has some experience working with groups in the United States, such as a USIA-sponsored exchange of American, Israeli Arab, Jewish and Palestinian teachers developed with Educators for Social Responsibility, and a reciprocal visit of municipal leaders. Arab and Jewish teens from Givat Haviva have also participated in the International Peace Games at Harvard.