Bridges for Peace for Both Jewish and Arab Schools

The role of education programs is perhaps important in conflict-affected countries because it prioritizes a concern for the protection of children and a response to the negative impacts of conflict on their education.

The Arab-Israeli conflict is one of the world’s longest-running and most controversial conflicts. This conflict over last several decades has been about theological differences between Judaism and Islam. The complex hostility between the two groups dates all the way back to ancient times as Israel’s origins can be traced back to Abraham, who is considered the father of both Judaism and Islam. However, tensions between Jews and Arab Muslims have been escalated by the Balfour Declaration which was the public statement by the British government announcing support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. In 1948, Israel was officially declared an independent state, then it marked the beginning of more violence with the Arabs, which led to numerous wars since the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Israel and Arabs have little contact or opportunity for positive interaction. This lack of contact often leads to having a tendency to develop negative perceptions of each other. Therefore, it is crucial to help children to engage in peace education programming that provides an opportunity to narrow gap based on different cultures, religions, and backgrounds.

The Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, which is the non-profit and non-government organization, has developed a wide range of educational methods that use sports to bring Jewish and Arab, Israeli and Palestine boys and girls together to overcome fears and break down emotional barriers. The Center has implemented The Twinned Peace Sport Schools (TPSS), which is supported by FIFA, in the Israeli communities as well as in various other locations.

TPSS is the longest-running sport project in the region and has a purpose on brining young generations together in an entertaining environment based on the principles of equality, diversity and respect. This program takes part in the following activities:
1) Weekly training and peace education: Approximately 40 Jewish children and 40 Arab children meet separately twice a week for training focused on soccer skills and peace education. The activities are structured around the ‘Peace Education through Sport Curriculum’ developed by the Peres Center for Peace.
2) Joint training and cultural activities: Approximately five times per year, both children groups will meet for joint activities. They play soccer in mixed team, which helps them develop values of teamwork, equality and mutual understanding.
3) Inter-language learning: Based on lesson plans designed, the children begin to learn their counterparts’ language.
4) Annual tournament: The high point of the year is the “Mini Mondial” which unites all participants of the wider TPSS project. This has to date exhibition matches with teams of Israeli Jewish and Arab mayors, international ambassadors, and Israeli Jewish and Arab premier league soccer players, coming together and playing with the children.

“Playing Fair, Leading Peace” soccer match at a Jerusalem school. Photo courtesy of the Peres Center

This program combines leadership training, “Playing Fair, Leading Peace,” for university students with peace education activities to enhance the impact of sports initiatives. Israelis and Palestinian young leaders are recruited and given training in the proven methods of fostering peace through sports, leadership and dialogue. The students then get hands-on experience, going in to schools and working with Jewish and Arab schoolchildren, who in their “twinned” groups.

The two stakeholders that would be interested in this article would be non-profit organizations and college students. Nonprofit organizations working for the rights of children in the Middle East can use this source when they consider initiating education projects for children, or nonprofits sports organizations can join to the peace education program, adopting curriculums structured by the Peres Center for Peace. College students also could use this source as an example for their studies related to Middle East or education when researching about educational methods applicable to attempts for reconciliation between Jews and Arabs.

You may use this source more effectively if you visit the Peres Center for Peace’s website, there are other projects you can see that the Center implements. They have developed programs in sports, cultivation of leadership and entrepreneurship, and environment. Furthermore, this resource gives many opportunities for those who are interested in communication, education, and peacebuilding, and also to get involved in projects to become constructive and influential leaders, promoting intercultural dialogue in diverse ways.

Resource used: https://www.peres-center.org/en/the-organization/projects/

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