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Projects working for peace among Israelis and Arabs

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This page discusses the many projects that work to create a peaceful and productive co-existence between Israelis and Arabs.

Table of contents
1 Israeli-Arab co-existence projects
2 Jewish-Muslim dialogue
3 The Unification Movement
4 American Muslim leaders
5 External links

Israeli-Arab co-existence projects

Ta'ayush Arab-Jewish Partnership

Formed in the fall of 2000, Ta'ayush (Arabic for "coexistance") is a grassroots movement of Arabs and Jews working to break down the walls of racism and segregation. It engages in daily actions of solidarity to end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and to achieve full civil equality for all Israeli citizens.

Ta'ayush

Neve Shalom Humanitarian Aid Project

The Israeli Jewish-Arab Village of Neve Shalom-Wahat al Salam provides a remarkable model of coexistence. They organize humanitarian projects, including providing medical assistance for Palestinians in need of help.

Hamidrasha Jewish-Arab Beit Midrash

Hamidrasha, a center for study and fellowship, works to address alienation, estrangement, and mutual ignorance between Jews and Arabs. Hamidrasha is establishing an inter-cultural Beit Midrash (Hebrew, "House of study"), which will serve as a basis for mutual personal and communal encounters, and for the study of cultural narratives and modern texts of both peoples. Jewish, Muslim and Christian men and women will engage in a true inter-cultural learning experience, with the goal of making a significant contribution to the ongoing dialogue between Jews and Arabs, and strengthening their reciprocal ties.

Ir Shalem co-existence program

In many ways the city of Jerusalem has been at the center of the conflict. The Israeli political movement Peace Now in 1994 has created an initiative called Ir Shalem, the goal of which is to build a peaceful equitable and inspiring future for this city, with Jewish and Arab citizens working together to find solutions based on equity and justice. This program brings together volunteer architects, planners, lawyers and other professionals to analyze problems, and offer solutions. Among other efforst, Ir Shalem is developing the first-ever planning model for East Jerusalem that will equitably meet the needs of the Palestinian community.

Ir Shalem

The West-Eastern Divan

Founded in 1998 by Israeli-Argentinian pianist-conductor Daniel Barenboim and Palestinian-American author Joseph Said, the West-Eastern Divan (named after a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe) promotes a cultural dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. A principal activity is an orchestra comprised of mostly young Israeli and Palestian musicians, who are demonstrating the potential for collaboration between the two cultures on the universal ideas that are communicated by great classical music. They have performed throughout the world. Barenboim has also made the point, at no small risk to himself, by going into besieged areas of Palestine and giving piano recitals and master classes.

West-Eastern Divan

Seeds of Peace

Seeds of Peace was founded in 1993 by John Wallach after the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. He created the Seeds of Peace International Camp in Otisfield, Maine, USA, and brought together several dozen Israelis, Palestinian and Egyptian teens. The goal of his organization was to create a new generation of leadership in the middle-east, one in which both Arabs and Israelis would no longer accept outdated and harmful stereotypes about each other; this would occur by bringing together people to literally put a human face on those who were previously perceived as an enemy. Since that time Arab children from Morocco, Jordan and Tunisia have joined. Seeds of Peace camps now operate programs in the Middle East as well. Seeds of Peace has also branched out into bringing teenagers together to help solve the Balkans conflict, the Greek and Turkish dispute over Cyprus, and the Indian-Pakistani dispute.

Seeds of Peace

Givat Haviva's Jewish-Arab Center for Peace

Givat Haviva is an education, research and documentation center, founded in 1949 by Ha'Kibbutz Ha'Arzi Federation; it is located in the northern Sharon Valley of Israel. According to its website " The mission of Givat Haviva today is to cope with the major issues that are on the agenda of Israeli society, and to foster educational initiatives, research and community work in the fields of peace, democracy, coexistence, tolerance and social solidarity."

Givat Haviva sponsors the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace. "Established in 1963, the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace is one of the oldest and most prominent institutions in its field. The common bond of the dozens of projects conducted in the Center is the struggle for better relations between Arabs and Jews, better understanding of the essence of democracy and citizens' rights in Israel, and building bridges with our Arab neighbors."

Jewish-Arab Center for Peace

Givat Haviva peace projects

OneVoice, a project of the Peaceworks Foundation

According to their website "OneVoice is a global undertaking to: Amplify the voice of moderates; Empower Palestinians and Israelis at the grass-roots level to seize back the agenda away from violent extremists; Achieve broad-based consensus on core issues, configuring a roadmap for conflict resolutions. OneVoice...was developed by over two hundred Palestinian, Israeli and international community leaders...dedicated to strengthen the voice of reason."

This group rejects what they see as left-wing appeasement of Palestinian terrorism by leftist groups; they reach out to moderate liberal and centrist Israelis who want to advance the peace process; they reach out to Palestinian moderates who reject terrorism and suicide-bombings; they work to cultivate a moderate political leadership on both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and are trying to pressure both the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority into reaching a just peace.

One Voice: Silent No Longer

One Voice FAQ

Seeking Peace, Pursuing Justice

The Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the congregational arm of American Reform Judaism, has created a project called Seeking Peace, Pursuing Justice. According to their website, their goal is "to educate and mobilize North American Jewry to support peace efforts and social justice causes in Israel.... This campaign will encourage the North American Jewish community to examine the risks and rewards of peace for Israel and the Palestinians, and to undertake critical, constructive public dialogue on the most pressing social issues facing Israel today — including the status of Arab citizens of Israel and other minorities, as well as other issues of inequality and discrimination."

Seeking peace, Pursuing Justice

The Abraham Fund

According to their website, The Abraham Fund Initiatives is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting coexistence between the Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel. Through advocacy and awareness campaigns, and by sponsoring coexistence projects, The Abraham Fund Initiatives fosters increased dialogue, tolerance and understanding between Arabs and Jews....

The Abraham Fund


Jewish-Muslim dialogue

The American Jewish Committee

While forcefully speaking out against Islamic anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli rhetoric, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) has worked since 1985 to enhancing relations between Jews and Muslims. The AJC encourages and engages in dialogue on many levels with like-minded groups committed to fostering tolerance and cooperation.

Their website states that "The American Jewish Committee has demonstrated a profound commitment to enhancing relations between Jews and Muslims, a vital part of its fundamental dedication to the promotion of interreligious understanding in the United States and around the world. Rejecting the inevitability of a "clash of civilizations," AJC has instead insisted on the possibility of a "community of civilizations" by encouraging dialogue on the highest levels with like-minded groups committed to fostering tolerance and cooperation. In so doing, we have achieved a number of breakthroughs in this vital arena. For well over a decade, AJC has dedicated itself to forging significant relationships with Arab and Muslim leaders around the world. AJC has traveled extensively in the Muslim world - from Morocco to Mauritania, through the Middle East and the Gulf states, to Indonesia. We have met with scores of Muslim leaders, including top officials of Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Tunisia, Bosnia, Kuwait, Qatar, Malaysia, and Indonesia, to discuss topics ranging from relations with Israel and the United States to the promotion of international Muslim-Jewish dialogue."

In 1986 the AJC publicly condemned the murder by bomb attack of Alex Odeh (in Oct. 1985), a member of Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Santa Ana. The AJC had a meeting with the Federal Bureau of Investigation director William Webster about this incident; they urged action to identify and punish those responsible for anti-Arab bigotry. In 1986 the AJC submitted testimony to the United States House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, on the topic of violence and discrimination towards Arab-Americans.

In 1991, on the brink of the Allied war against Iraq, the AJC issues a statement warning the public not to engage in discrimination towards American Arabs or Muslims. In part, they states "We are ever mindful of what happened to Japanese-Americans as a result of war hysteria shortly after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. Some 120,000 Japanese-Americans, two-thirds of whom were American citizens, were evacuated and incarcerated in internment camps... without any evidence whatsoever that they were a threat to U.S. security. This must not happen again." (AJC statement by executive director David Harris)

From 1992 to 1995 the AJC worked to lobby the United States government to intervene on behalf on Muslims in Bosnia.

In 1993 the AJC sponsored the first national conference on "Muslims and Jews in North America: Past, Present and Future" with the Institute for Islamic-Judaic Studies at the University of Denver in October. In 1994 they sponsored the second such conference. The third conference had to be canceled, when the AJC could not found Muslim partners who were willing to publicly condemn the current wave of terrorist attacks on Israel.

In 1999 the AJC helped aid Muslims in Kosovo.

In 2001 the AJC initiated a new project designed to advance understanding between Muslims and Jews by publishing two books: Children of Abraham: An Introduction to Judaism for Muslims, by Professor Reuven Firestone, a scholar of Islam at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, was written to describe Judaism to Muslims; Children of Abraham: An Introduction to Islam for Jews, by professor Khalid Duran, was written to describe Judaism for Muslims.

The Unification Movement

Reverend Sun Myung Moon has initiated several peace projects attempting to defuse hostilities between Muslims, Jews and Christians. The most recent involved 28 clergy from the United States who toured Gaza in September 2003, despite the American Consulate's warnings of rocket attacks. They were warmly welcomed by local Muslim clerics.

American Muslim leaders


See also: 
Religious pluralism, Peace process

External links