On a sunny weekend, we, the SFP and the Arab Center for Alternative Planning, held the final meeting for our change agents course for Jewish and Arab urban planners and architects. The course, which we started in February 2016, was held alternately in Wahat al-Salam ~ Neve Shalom and in the Galilee village of Eilaboon.
We started this final meeting with a dialogue session between members of the group, who spoke about the Arab-Jewish planners forum, which they had recently founded together with graduates from last year’s course.
After the dialogue session, Mr. Jafar Farah, director of the Mossawa Center, gave a lecture about the challenges of shared actions vs. individual actions, in light of the current situation. Following the lecture the group split into the smaller national groups for a uni-national dialogue session.
“I’m not the same person as I was before, politically, socially, and personally. The course gave me a lot of strength to speak up and express my opinion at my workplace. I acquired both knowledge but the initiative to hold discussions and encourage people who are not so aware. You showed me a spark of hope that there are people who think differently.”
(one of the Arab participants)
The next morning, Mr. Ra’ed Nasrallah gave us a fascinating historic and political tour of Nazareth. We ended the day with a closing session during which the participants spoke about their experiences during the last year.
“Aside from the knowledge which I gained throughout this year, this course gave me a place to which I can direct all the dilemmas I have with living in this place. Today I am passionate about being active. I received energy and optimism for actions and am already active (in the Jewish-Arab planners forum).”
(one of the Jewish participants)
Today, some of the participants are involved in a project to expand the jurisdiction of the Arab town of Jisr Al-Zarqa, a project which Prof. Ron’el is pushing. Others are active in the newly founded Jewish-Arab Planners Forum and are working on a petition which calls for an end to the demolitions policy and an end to land grabs from Arab towns. The members of the planners forum also took part in the Tel Aviv demonstration against racism and incitement. It was a successful ending to a unique course full of activities for the urban planners and for us.