June 1, 2014: The School for Peace has won a $50,000 grant from Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF) in Turkey, towards a joint project with the Ramallah based organization Tawasul, for teaching literature teachers. The School for Peace / Tawasul project was chosen as one of only 10 projects selected from among 1,179 projects submitted from 107 countries. The list was narrowed down first to 57 projects, and then to 17. (The process is described in the English-language Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman.) However the final decision was only made in Istanbul, after these 17 organizations presented their projects there, in the framework of a conference that took place between May 31 – June 1.
The conference, known as the Istanbul Summit, focused this year on women’s perspectives on the UN’s development agenda after 2015. The event brought together participants from key women’s and development organizations around the world. Nava Sonnenschein represented the School for Peace at the conference and award presentation. Commenting on the experience, Nava said that the weekend program was one of the most interesting and enjoyable events in which she has ever participated. “It offered excellent opportunities to meet from very fine people from around the world, and was very productive for networking with other organizations with similar objectives.” She was favorably impressed with JWF, by the calibre of those involved with the organization and with the quality of its literature. The School for Peace evidently won the grant because the project is so closely aligned with the purposes of the JWF.
The Grant is intended to “support innovative conflict resolution and peacebuilding projects focused on preventing, managing and resolving violent conflict and promoting post-conflict peacebuilding”. The School for Peace/Tawasul were the only local winners this year, although the US-based “Alliance for Middle East Peace” (of which the American Friends of Neve Shalom – Wahat al-Salam is a member), also won a grant.
The Journalists and Writers Foundation
JWF is a non-governmental organization in general consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Founded in 1994, the organization aims to promote peaceful coexistence, love, tolerance and dialogue at global, regional and local levels. As such, it organizes events under various platforms, and in addition “holds award ceremonies to gain inspiration from for those who contributed to universal peace and worked hard for their fellow countrymen.”
The selected project
The grant money will be used to fund a joint project of the School for Peace and Tawasul: “Arabic and Hebrew Literature in the School: Teaching the Literature of the Other”. The project is intended to train Jewish and Arab teachers of literature (Jewish and Palestinian teachers in Israel and Palestinian teachers in the West Bank). It will be based on the anthology of short stories and poems by leading writers, which was developed and published by the School for Peace (“Two Peoples Write from Right to Left”). The grant will be used to train 60 Palestinian and Jewish teachers to use the book as teaching medium. The project will include three courses: two in Israel and one in the West Bank. Each of these will be composed of three elements: a three-day encounter workshop, a one-day uninational workshop, and a final three-day joint workshop in which the teachers will hear lectures by specialists in the literature of the two peoples. The teachers will conduct a simulation of a lesson, which members of the other people will observe. In the ensuing discussion, they will be able to receive feedback. As part of the course, the teachers will be required to prepare example syllabi. The project will help to address a situation in which schools provide no exposure to the literature of the other people. It will use an innovative means to create empathy and understanding between the two peoples.