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The Palestine Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation

Licensed Non-Profit Organization
P.O.Box 861  Bethlehem - Palestine
Telfax: 972-2-2745475 Tel: 972-2-2767745  e-mail: ccrr@palnet.com

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See also - Noah's Story

The Palestinian Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (CCRR) was established to help change the approach to conflict resolution within the Palestinian community and among the people of the region.

The center provides professional training programs and ongoing consultation. We help organizations enhance their knowledge and skills in order to sustain principled negotiation and mediation approaches to conflicts. Target populations are key "multipliers" in Palestinian society, with priority given to schools (teachers, students and parents, youth security forces, leaders of non-government organizations working for peace and reconciliation, student leaders, women's groups, government officials and others.

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Our program will include joint regional projects to address regional conflicts at the community and professional level, thereby setting the groundwork for sustaining peace among the Palestinians and between the Palestinians and the peoples of other countries.

Organizational Goals


Our Center Activities And Programs

June 2002

Although that our center is newly established, and in spite of the difficult circumstances that our people are passing through, which made our work very difficult, and sometimes impossible with the occupation that surround us, and the violence that we are facing dailyÖ We have managed to coordinate different programs, which are considered necessary to our Palestinian community, the relations with the Israeli side, and the peace powers that work to end the occupation and build peace based on justice through mutual respect and stopping all kind of violence, officially and personally.

In spite of all this and with our efforts (our staff and peace activists who work with us as employees or voluntarily) we managed to fulfill many programs, some of the important ones are discussed below

1)      Teaching Peace Program Through Schools

This program aims to teach peace values, justice, democracy, and non violence through solving problems with negotiation methods in a number of governmental schools in Bethlehem and Jericho through 40 hours training course. As a first stage we gave this course to social workers, (21 social workers from different schools this year), then as a second stage, these social workers gave the course to the 10th grade students, in coordination with the school management. We chose 10th grade students because of their age sensitivity, being an important phase that they go through, where they transfer from childhood to adults. This sensitive faze has its affect of their personality, as we believe that all they will learn during this age will affect their behavior all their lives.

The third stage of this program is giving this course to school teachers voluntarily, as one of the social workers tasks is to convince teachers of the course importance, the message it passes through, and its value to the students and teachers, its affect on the teaching course, and the influence it will have on the school atmosphere and on the relations between students, between students and teachers, and between students and their parents.

It is important that teachers do not take this course as a teaching material, but learn and train on how to transfer the information to the others without lecturing, but through interaction, exercises, and groups. These newly learned information's and skills will reflect on the behavior of students, teachers, and all teaching operation members, which will lead to enroll these understandings into the teaching materials in an indirect way, through home works and teaching activities in the class room.

We had hoped that our program will expand to include a larger number of schools due to its importance in the shadow of the current situation we are passing through, where violence is spreading every where among members of the community, specially between the young ones. That is why we seek to spread non violence values, democracy, peace, and social justice in our community, and among different communities.

The importance of this program came from the above point, hence the necessity to expand it, as we had hoped that our contributors would be more interested in such a program, especially for its urgent need in the current circumstances of violence spreading every form between all tribes and individuals of our community in addition to the political violence.

Our program succeeded in every way, and was accepted by all participants. The demand were greater than our limitation, due to lack of material and the necessary finance for us to expand this program, but we will continue to work on this issue, and maybe we will succeed in finding the right finance to expand this program to include a larger number of schools in all Palestine cities. Also we will look forward to cooperate with other similar projects from different countries to benefit from them and to share our experience with them also.

2)      Psychological Counseling Program

This program a two year old program, where we tried to provide group counseling to youths between the age of 15 to 20 years old, as they are more vulnerable and more exposed to violence and it's psychological, mental, and even the physical affect in our Palestinian society. This kind of violence is dressed in a political suite that gets mixed with the religious, national, and mental ideas. The number of youth who get negatively exposed to this kind of violence is growing rapidly, so we try to give group counseling through workshops for children at this age, which contains a mixture of physical counseling and learning meetings, to gain the necessary skill to cope with crisis and deal with it, also get trained on conflict resolution skills, as we try in these work shops to create a comfortable atmosphere in a human and physiological way for every participant.

Each meeting contains about 20-25 participant, and takes about 2-4 hours, and some times a whole day, to form a 30 hour work shop in conclusion. Beverages, soft and hot drinks are provided in these meetings, and sometimes meals, for its affect on the general atmosphere of the meeting.

       

In many cases we found some participants bringing new friends each day to participate in these work shops, which proves the level of attraction these work shops has, and the participants interest and attachment to it.

We plan to continue with this program this year also, hoping we can expand it, for its positive influence on the society in general, and on the participants in particular.

This program trains police, security men, and government employees how to deal with public. This program was implemented in co-ordinance with many different establishments, as many workshops were held in many cities like Hebron, Bethlehem, Abu Dees, Jericho, and Ramallah to a number of Palestinian security men, which focused on:

Each workshop had 10 meetings, each of 3hours, which concluded to 30 training hours. These meetings were so short, and although the participant's no. was huge, it was so limited in comparison to the huge number of security men in all security systems, which made it impossible for us to include them all in such a small program.

Although this program was so successful and it attracted a large no. of participants, but we think that the donating country did not give the right amount of importance to such a program as it wasn't one of its priorities, which limited our sources to reach a larger no. of participants.

In our opinion this is considered one of the mistakes in directing programs by the donating party, as security forces does not need to only learn how to use arms, but it also need to gain communication skills, dealing with public, and conflict resolution skills, which lack many members of the security forces, in spite of their loyalty to their people, and their passion to help, passion alone is not enough, a person must be capable of something to be able to do it in a right way.

This program was implemented for one year only (1999), as we gave a 40 hour course for 20 participants of Palestinian and Israeli security forces who worked together at Allenby Bridge, which was a great accomplishment for both sides to agree to attend such a course, held at Allenby Bridge, in attendance of head of senior officers from both sides.

This course focused on the way to resolve conflicts between the two sides, who worked together 24 hours a day at the boarder, it also focused on communication and speech skills, to change the image that each side has on the other, as we discovered that these officers didnít know any kind of information about each other, their habits, morals, or culture, and all they knew is from rumors they've heard. Also they have never been trained to work with each other, which lead to many conflicts and problems to take place between them.

Another two courses were given to another two groups at Karmy Bridge between Gaza and Israel, each of 20 participants, for 40 hours. These courses were the first opportunity for those officers to get to know each others individually, and directly, and to know the image each side has on the other. All participants and their ranking officers showed a great interest in these courses, and a well to continue attending it. All participants indicated that their relationship with each other has changed after taking this course, and the way they were dealing with each other also changed and became better, but unfortunately after the political situation deteriorated in the year 2000, it was impossible to continue with such programs, although all who was working in this field is still in contact with us and demanding for such programs to be implemented again.

The most important conclusion came out of these courses was:  that it is a big error to put these people to work together without any prior training by such programs, to help them to get to know one another as people first, before they became soldiers, as it is not possible to change animosity by making a written deal only, it needs preparation, education, and introducing one party to the other, in addition to train these soldiers on skills of communication and conflict resolution.

A summer course which was held during schools summer vacation, a number of courses were held for many separate groups of young ones. Participants expected to take a special, aspectual, and leading role between his/her colleagues at school, by positive interference to improve the relations between students, and help them sometimes to solve their problems.

Participants came from different schools in the district (cities, villages, and camps), which gave them the opportunity to get to know each other, and relationships to be created between them.

The course consisted of 50 training hour, during the summer vacation, and focuses on the concept of leadership, group participating, communication, and conflict resolution skills, and many other concepts like human rights, democracy, and non-violence.

This program was supported and cooperated with PISA University and until now we managed to implement two courses from this program, each course took one year of joint meetings between 20 peace activists, and those who work in the field of conflict resolution from both the Palestinian and the Israeli side.

The course is made out of more than 100 training hours, where The Center for Conflict Resolution & Reconciliation - CCRR director Noah Salameh as trainer from the Palestinian side, and Edi Kaufman from The Truman Institute in the Hebrew University as a trainer from the Israeli side.

The course discusses the problems of co-facilitation, and how to deal with it, and the skills necessary for it, where they teach participants through group learning, making each participant join the discussions, as each one is from a foundation that work in this field, and has a previous experience in this subject.

The course is considered as an exchanged learning experience between the participants, where they exchange different exercises and games that they implement in these workshops, next to the theoretical side and the scientific back ground on the co-facilitation issue each participant has, this kind of facilitation is important for joint workshops, and the dialogue between the two sides of the conflict, as each side feels they are being represented.

This kind of course is the first in kind in our country and in the whole world, as there hasnít been a similar course held on the same academic or scientific level, what proves its success is the high level of interest from participants, choosing them was a difficult task as we had a huge number of applicants from all who wanted to join this workshop.

The first course was held 1999-2000, where the political and security position was somehow stable, so meeting were held alternatively, one at the Palestinian territories, and the other at the Israeli territories. During these discussions a net of relationship were established during the course period, due to its attraction, livability, and open discussions between all participants, and establish relation and even build cooperation and joint programs between them.

The center hold lectures for youngsters from now and then on subject that has to do with peace, and non-violence, like democracy, and human rights. Each lecture is attended by 25-30 participants, where they discuss in general the situation, their own ideas and its relations to the current situation in our country Palestine, and how it could be possible to influence this situation positively.

These lectures were held in co-ordinance with the independent Palestinian committee for human rights. We felt the great importance of these lectures, and the great demand on them, as it motivate all the participants to search for more information on the subjects of human rights and democracy, to contribute in the general benefit.

Our center prints many notes on the current situation and the different concepts of non-violence, democracy, peace, and human rights. We plan to print a number of small booklets that helps to spread these concepts into the Palestinian community, and the inner peace among members of the community.

Although we are still in the early stages of this project, but we already have enough materials to work on, and we will actually start as soon as we find suitable funds for this purpose. These booklets are so important if it is distributed in libraries, schools, and cultural clubs, and become available for all our youth, it is a completing method to our different programs.

A joint workshop will be held around the role of history in conflict, where many teachers will meet from both sides to discuss the influence of teaching history, and the way we read it on conflicts, and how it can be helpful in building peace or at least neutralize to stop it from escalating the conflict.

Although the subject is so complicated and so aculeate we initiated this project because we feel that this subject is important, and we have to discuss it at a certain stage. In spite of some writers who tackled this subject in their books, we consider that all this is only theoretical and no one yet had it discussed practically, with the closest people to this issue- the teachers, who teach this subject at schools, and every day in every class. History became a general subject and not only to those who study history, especially in a conflict that lasted over 100 year.

 We are preparing to run some individual meetings for each side at first to discuss how each side sees history, and its role in conflict, and then in a second stage we plan to have joint meetings for both sides to have joint discussions on the subject. We hope that we will be able to get out of these discussions with some recommendations on how to deal with History in conflict situation, or some suggestions on how to teach history.

This issue is so complex, and need many field studies with those who work at schools to find a way to deal with it. So we hope that this program will be a start for many other similar ones. This program is cooperated with the Neve Shalom organization from the Israeli side.

Here we mention some projects that we hope to accomplish, as we already started some communications and preparations for them:

Some of our friends contacted us, naming those at Ret Red Ritch foundation, to inform us that one of Italy municipalities want to host a 20 Palestinian children at summer vacation, specially children from those cities who was exposed to strong violent actions in the last period, to become messengers to the Italian people and to get introduced to the Italian culture and civilization, and to lean more about their way of living. They can also explain the Palestinian culture to the Italian people through direct contact with the Italian culture.

We hope that this project will be implemented this year, and to be a start to a larger project of exchanging culture between people from many different countries. We also hope that this program will always continue with our Italian friends.

There is also another suggestion to hold a joint summer camp for both Italian and Palestinian children during the summer vacation this year, as we are currently discussing this project with one of the interested foundations. As we see in this project also an opportunity to introduce the Palestinian culture, our circumstances, ourselves as simple people, who love peace, and live under occupation and fight for our right to decide our destiny, independence, and freedom, and that violence is only a reaction to our people suffering, to the hard life, and the funnel procedures by the occupation forces, to prove that things are not as the media pictures it.

Finally we hope that this short report on our center programs give our friends, and those who sympathize with our work, and with all values of love, peace, justice, equality, and brother hood an idea on what we are doing, our work and goals which we summarize by working for peace, justice, and mutual respect between all people, and all individuals in our organization and in the whole world.

We would like to assure you that the most important goal of our center (CCRR) is to create, maintain, and nurture the values and moralities of humans, which exists in all religious books, and different philosophies, and indicates that any human was created to live in peace, and that the war is an exceptional, and emergency case that must be changed through creating a culture for peace, justice, freedom, equality, and no partiality between all human beings for color, ethnicity, believe, nationality, race, culture, or any other differences.

Looking forward to your support and continual cooperation.

The Center for Conflict Resolution & Reconciliation - CCRR

Director

Yours in peace & reconciliation,

 The Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation - CCRR

Director

 Noah Salameh

P.O.Box. 861
Bethlehem - Palestine
Tel. +972-2-2767745
Fax. +972-2-2745475

E-mail: ccrr@palnet.com or salamehn@hotmail.com

A Word From the Director

Our people are yearning for Peace. CCRR is an interfaith center working to bring people together for a just peace. Peace and reconciliation, based on telling the truth, are the only ways for a better future for our childen.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are based on peace, love, justice and great values. Let us put our differences aside. Let us recognize the rights of others and of all of us to be equal. We all need respect, identity, freedom and justice.

It is time to put aside the old way of dealing with conflicts. The time is ripe for a new way of conflict resolution. It is time to negotiate our differences and needs based on mutual respect, cooperation and understanding, without domination or occupation.


We Need Your Help

CCRR is a registered non-profit organization Donations can be sent to Palestine Center for Conflict Resolution, P.O.Box 861  Bethlehem - Palestine

Bank Transfers:

Palestine Center for Conflict Resolution, Mercantile Discount Bank Ltd. Branch 537 Account no. 61-949086 Bethlehem.

In the US:

CNEWA Pontifical Mission for Palestine
1011 First Avenue, New York, NY 10022-4195
Msgr. Denis J. Madden, Vice-President
Tel. (212) 826-1480, Fax. (212) 838-1344 E-mail: djm@cnewa.org

Thank You - Shukran

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