This morning I posted Israel/Palestine: hoping for hope, in which I articulated my prayer that God might help me find hope for the Middle East again.
About an hour later, an email came into my inbox about a new summer program for Jewish and Arab adults in their 20's, sponsored by Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam. The goal is to faciliate better relations and on-going dialogue about the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
Neve Shalom / Wahat al-Salam -- "Oasis of Peace" -- is a cooperative village of Jews and Palestinian Arabs of Israeli citizenship, located midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-Jaffa. They do a lot of educational work for peace, equality, and understanding between the two peoples. Now the US-based Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam is putting together a retreat for Jewish and Arab twentysomethings, to be held at Oscars Farm retreat center in West Burke,Vermont in August 2012.
The retreat will be facilitated by two people from the School for Peace, "a unique educational institution offering Jewish-Arab encounter programs." Here's how the School for Peace folks describe their work:
Our intention is to enable participants to enrich their perspectives, to critically examine things ordinarily taken for granted, and to try to comprehend the turbulent and violent processes taking place all around us. We have found that a unique learning experience can be offered by relating directly to events, in a safe space that permits people to examine their feelings and thoughts in the group setting. Facts and information alone are inadequate to create social awareness and prompt a renewed examination of things as they are: We must pose new possibilities and challenge the existing reality. Our team of facilitators brings a critical approach to current reality and emphasizes the implications of majority-minority relations and the asymmetry in the existing power relationships.
This sounds pretty awesome. And I can't help being wryly amused that God apparently answered my plea -- with an email from a PR firm! Hey, the Lord works in mysterious ways.
If you're college-aged, Jewish and/or Arab, and interested in the Middle East, or if you know someone who is, contact 2012workshops (at) oasisofpeace (dot) org.