Building Peace through Knowledge-An Israeli Palestinian Project

Building Peace through Knowledge-An Israeli Palestinian Project


Building Peace through Knowledge-An Israeli Palestinian Project

Professor Alean Al-Krenawi from the Charlotte B. & Jack J. Spitzer Department of social Work in Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is leading a project of using .
knowledge in order to create a connection between Israelis and Palestinians.
Through this project Prof. Al-Krenawi brings together Israeli and Palestinian academics, educators, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, school counselors, principles, and teachers who work at the forefront of research and work with people who were and are injured from political violence.
Together they will share their collective knowledge, experience and research accrued during work with the community.The participants undergo workshops about trauma, tolerance and reconciliation and together explore ways to help their communities. They will teach techniques and developmental tools within their communities affected by political violence.
The workshops grant these professionals the opportunity to hear the narrative of both
sides and in that way to sound the voice of the affected population.This project is possible thanks to the generous funding of the American USAID Organization.
Within this project a second training with approximately 50 participants occurred on 31 of May-1 of June 2012 in Jerusalem at the Ambassador Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah.

The training began with opening statements by . Prof. A l-Krenawi, which introduced the project and its stages. Additionally, he presented his book which is supposed to come out over the next few months, which discusses the effect of the political violence in the region on Israeli and Palestinian youth.After the opening statements the participants heard two main lectures.
The first lecture was given by Dr. Tawfiq Ali Mohammad Salman, a Consultant and Child & Adolescence Psychiatrist, the manager of SOS Psychosocial Services in Ramallah in the West Bank, and President of PACAMH.

The lecture was about the Child Mental Health Situation in Palestine.
In the lecture Dr. Tawfiq Salman spoke about his book on his work, and brought an example of the institute’s success: A Palestinian was injured in IDF action and afterwards passed away in a hospital in the presence of his wife and children, who in their anger decided to “take revenge”, which became the purpose of the man’s adolescent child.

During psychological therapy it came to light that the child was angry at himself since he was unable to aid his father when he was injured, and therefore wanted to become a shahid and revenge on the Jews. In the end, after years of therapy, the child changed his mind and decided to learn medicine instead. And the reason?

The child claims that if he knew medicine when his father was injured, he could have helped him and maybe even save him. This therefore became his objective in life-to save. The will to save overcame the will to revenge.

The second lecture was given by Dr. Ani Kalayjian, an Armenian from the USA, a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine and President of the Association for Trauma Outreach & Prevention in New York.

The lecture was about Political Violence and Chronic Trauma: Challenges for Healing and Meaning-Making.

Dr. Ani Kalayjian spoke about the Armenian genocide and the Arab-Israeli conflict. According to her, holocausts, genocides and wars are a national trauma which is accompanied by personal trauma. According to research, the trauma is passed on from generation to generation down to the seventh generation.

In order to be freed from the trauma, a person would have to undergo processes that would create pardoning, forgiveness, reconciliation and trust building. These are achieved by a seven step program that she developed that has already been tried in several places around the world in which there is trauma: in Bosnia, Lebanon, Kenya, Turkey, and Armenia.

She asks: For how many more years must the Armenian hate towards the Turkish continue? We need to forgive and not forget! It is the same for the Arab-Israeli conflict.

On the second day Dr. Ani Kalayjian gave a workshop on Forgiveness and Self-Healing: In Spite of Continued Denial and Political Violence.

In the workshop the Israeli and Palestinian participants brought their own personal and professional stories. To illustrate this here are two examples that came up in the workshop:

An Israeli participant who is a doctor spoke of the personal pain and suffering that he experiences, and in response a Palestinian psychologist who is the daughter of a shahid shared and spoke of her personal pain and her professional difficulties in working with families of shahids.

The participants listened to each other’s’ pain with great empathy.

The training concluded with everyone identifying with each other, encouraging each other to speak of their pain, and everyone hugged.