Israel 21C – A Focus Beyond the Conflict (Cupertino, CA), June 5, 2005
Last week, the project Learning Each Other’s Narrative was awarded the prestigious the inaugural Victor J. Goldberg IIE Prize for Peace in the Middle East, of the Institute of International Education.
The organization, “commends your commitment to overcoming the barriers that divide the Middle East,” IIE president Allan E. Goodman said in a letter to Bar-On and Adwan, adding that their project “has demonstrated success in bringing people together across religious, cultural, ethnic, and political divides.”
In order for people with years of painful and violent interaction to coexist peacefully, they don’t necessarily have to like or agree with each other, but they must understand their point of view and their view of the history between them. This can happen when they really listen to each other’s personal stories.
“The idea is not that you have to agree with the other narrative, but you have to listen to it, to respect it and try to understand it,” Israeli Professor Dan Bar-On, one of this project’s directors. “You can’t de-legitimize it — if you want to live with the other side, you have to learn to live with their narrative.”
Bar-On, the Chair of the Department of Behavioral Science at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, has harnessed this idea into this ambitious educational curriculum development project which he co-directs with his Palestinian partner, Sami Adwan, an education professor at Bethlehem University.
What is much more gratifying than prizes, Bar-On says, is the fact that the curriculum materials that have resulted from the project have been harnessed for Jewish-Arab dialogue work overseas.
“What we absolutely didn’t expect is that the booklet has been translated into Spanish, and Italian, and French. In France, 20,000 copies have been sold. It is being used as a tool in European classrooms with both Jews and Muslims in them. It is the beginning of a process that we think is original and worthwhile.”
Subjects Covered: diversity training, education