Two different organizations in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories are using video tools to help both Arabic and Jewish youth to understand the conflict and bridge gaps between them, creating spaces for interaction and communication where they can share their dreams, concerns and thoughts regarding the complex situation they live in.
With the majority of Palestinian and Jewish youth physically segregated from one another (in separate communities and schools) and fears, racism and prejudice the result, we look to build alternative models for interaction between the two groups. The ‘Building a Culture of Peace’ program seeks to create a space in which both Palestinian and Jewish youth may feel equal, respected and recognized as individuals and as national collectives.
The members of their program have also been participating in the One Minute Video Project, where they learn about video activism during a one-week workshop. Here are some of the results, and you can see the rest by clicking through to their site:
Another initiative is the Windows for Peace project, which started back in 1991 as an effort to produce a bilingual and bicultural magazine for youth as a way for them to connect and learn about the conflict, promote equality and empower youth. However, it hasn't been easy, as they explain on their site:
It is no simple task for Israeli and Palestinian youth to overcome the vast amount of misinformation and stereotypes they are taught about one another. The limited availability for interaction, a result of living in mostly segregated communities and exacerbated by the ongoing violent political conflict, perpetuates the historical fears, prejudice, and hatred that divide the two peoples. Windows is therefore dedicated to fostering large scale change in the way Israeli and Palestinian youth see themselves, “the other” and the conflict. Participants in Windows programs go through experiences that promote conflict transformation among both peoples, towards a peaceful reality with which both sides can live. We believe that a just and lasting peace must be based on democratic values, human rights, and mutual knowledge and acceptance of “the other.”
They are also working on a new initiative called Through the Lens, where 15 to 17 year old youth who “graduate” from the magazine continue developing skills to create short films, news pieces and other video productions to further “productive, peace-building dialogue and positive interaction”.
Here is a video where the participants of Windows speak about their experience in the group and how they have dealt with the challenges it represents to get out of their comfort zone and speak about difficult topics such as the conflict between Israel and Palestine:
As the children in the video state in so many words: they may have a hard time dealing with many of the opinions and perceptions other children express, but having the space to discuss issues in a safe and secure manner helps them understand the world they live in with a possibility to interact, learn and share with other children and youth and even change these perceptions.