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May 19, 2014

Seeds lead community dialogues
in Palestinian, Israeli communities


JERUSALEM | Over 100 Seeds and other members of their communities met in April and May as part of Seeds of Peace’s ongoing series of Community Dialogues, in which Seeds identify, design, and implement programs based on what they perceive as the most important conflict-related issues facing their societies internally.

Four Seeds and two Educators engaged students from Hebron and the neighboring town of Bani Naim in an April 18 dialogue session about Normalization, calls for boycott of Israeli products, and the work of cross-border initiatives between Israelis and Palestinians.

On April 27 in Tel Aviv, 11 Seeds screened a film about minority groups in Israel and afterwards led a discussion about identity, power and responsibility.

During an earlier meeting in Tel Aviv, participants watched “The Day After Peace,” a documentary which examines the role of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee in post-Apartheid South Africa as well as the real-life struggles of Israeli and Palestinian victims of violence. The film helped audience members understand the work that needs to be done on an individual level to advance peace. The film’s director attended the event and answered questions from participants, who then engaged in a discussion of the film.

“In our dialogues (with Palestinians) there is a lot of comparing,” said one participant, reflecting on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. “It is a strange thought to me to think that it is possible to enter a process of reconciliation without accusing each other. It was so surprising that in the movie people did not accuse each other. We can have hope.”

In Gaza City, Palestinian Seeds led an argument evaluation workshop for 30 of their peers. The session, held April 12, provided tools to critically analyze arguments made in the news and on social media.

The next day, five Seeds held a dialogue in Ramallah about women’s rights in Palestine and the challenges posed to them by social norms and military occupation.

“Palestinian women have more rights than Arab women elsewhere,” said one of the 12 non-Seed participants after the discussion. “But the number of women in government is still very low and should increase.”

Five Seeds led a similar workshop on May 3 in Qalqiliya. The Seeds engaged 18 of their peers in a discussion about human rights violations committed by Israel and the Palestinian government, ranging from restrictions on movement to displacement of civilians and construction of settlements. The group also addressed internal obstacles to democratic reform in Palestine.

Seeds of Peace’s Community Dialogue series is supported by USAID and to date has engaged over 400 Israelis and Palestinians in discussion on issues driving conflict in their communities.


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