On Friday, October 13, the School for peace opened the third and last cycle of the Up & Coming Politicians, Israelis and Palestinians, as Change Agents for future peace and justice.The first cycle of the Up & Coming Politicians program, which is held in cooperation with the Palestinian Center Inmaa, was opened in spring 2016. Each cycle includes 40 social and political activists, Palestinians and Jews from Israel, and Palestinians from Palestine, and lasts 18 months during which the participants meet for dialogue workshops, lectures be experts in fields related to the conflict, study tours of areas central to the conflict, and a negotiations simulation. The first cycle of the course ended this past spring in a celebratory meeting in Talitha Kumi in Beit Jala. The second cycle is still in ongoing and will meet this month in Aqaba for a negotiations workshop, after which they will begin working on shared projects.
The goal of this course is not only to create a meeting point for the future leaders who will bring peace, but to encourage the participants to join forces and create projects for social change in their community and society. Among the ideas for projects raised by the first cycle of the course were projects that will address the “Us vs. Them” discourse which has become more and more popular, and an initiative to create a joint Palestinian-Israeli lobby that will promote a just solution and peace between the two peoples.
For the opening meeting of the third cycle the participants met in Wahat Al-Salam ~ Neve Shalom for a workshop that included preparation for the course and dialogue. The group this year is a very diverse one and includes people from the entire political spectrum: Likkud, Meretz, the Zionist Camp, Yesh Atid, and the Joint Arab List. In addition, there is an interesting social cross-section including both veterans in the country and newcomers, secular and orthodox.
The Up & Coming Politicians program is based on a unique dialogue method and a change agents models developed by the School for Peace. The aim of this program is to provide the next generation of Palestinian and Israeli politicians the tools and will to promote a sustainable peace between Israel and Palestine, and to improve and direct their skills towards making a positive, wide, long-term change in their society.
By analyzing the current leadership in the government, in political parties, and civil society organizations, the School for Peace identified the people who will move in to key roles in politics and in the next decade. From these groups of student unions, periphery movements, media, nonprofits, unions, and local authorities, the School for Peace and Inmaa Center chose 120 participants to take part in this special program. For implementing this unique project, the School for Peace was awarded a grant by the EU Peacebuilding Initiative, and for supporting the projects which the participants will create. This program which began in 2016, is set to end by the end of the year 2018.
This project is funded by the European Union.