Philosophy of Education Research Colloquia
ARAB-JEWISH YOUTH PROGRAMS: SOME REFLECTIONS ON INTENT AND GOALS
Harriet Feinberg, (November 14, 2006)
Cosponsored by the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life; and the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education
Abstract: For several decades a variety of programs have brought young Jews and Arabs into face-to-face contact. Typically, such programs are planned by adults for young people who would not otherwise have an intensive interaction; they engage in shared activities such as sports, music, drama, drawing, film and video, storytelling, and outings.
Within this broad rubric, the programs are quite diverse. Some take place in Israel, others in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Participants range from preschoolers to young adults. They meet at summer camps, retreats, community centers, schools, and studios. Some projects encourage discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other contentious Middle East issues; others try to create a special atmosphere away from politics. Some programs bring together Israeli Jews and Arabs; others include young people from the whole Middle East, and still others focus on young Jewish-Americans and Arab-Americans or include an international contingent.
Could such a diverse collection of projects have in common anything other than hope – the hope that somehow these encounters are building a more peaceful future for the next generation? Perhaps there is insight to be gained from an analysis of language. This presentation will examine the stated objectives of a range of such programs for commonalities and differences. Closer analysis will focus on the ‘mission statements’ of a few programs in relation to the young participants’ activities, and then raise a number of questions about the short- and long-term goals of such programs.