The Encounter program provides opportunities for Israelis and Palestinian to break from their narrow, militaristic narratives that feed into the cycle of fear, hatred and violence. Through three distinct activities that allow Israelis and Palestinians to encounter the “other,” learn about the other’s narrative, hear the personal transformation of someone from their “side,” participants can begin to change their own understanding of the conflict and their role in it. Using the methods of personal storytelling, embodied personal transformation and experiential learning Encounter programs inspire hope and encourages participants to engage in demanding a peace process. These are designed to bring Israelis and Palestinians out of their own stories as they see them, meet the other outside of their role as active participants in the cycle of violence and provide nonviolent alternative action.
The three activities in the Encounter program, chosen by the program host and developed in cooperation with the CfP coordinator are as follows. Each activity is always followed by a galvanizing session of Q&A and open discussion to maximize personal transformation.
Parlor meetings: We use the methodology of personal storytelling to begin the process of transformation in changing the conflict for participants. Our members share their personal stories, emphasizing their past involvement in the cycle of violence, and share the process of transformation they have made. Educational Tours: Full day events in which Israeli and/or international participants tour different areas of the West Bank to learn about the daily challenges of the occupation in that locality and to see the other side. The day ends with a meeting structured similar to the parlor meetings. These tours are tailored to the participants’ interests and needs.
Disturbing the Peace movie screenings (trailer): We screen a documentary film in community venues across Israel and Palestine, and across the world, that portrays the history and current socio-political context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It inspires hope in the capacity to move from violence to nonviolence through telling the personal narratives and stories of CFP founding members, Israeli refuseniks and Palestinian former prisoners.
In 2016, the Encounters program has reached over 2,800 Israelis and around 260 Palestinians. In 2017, we reached approximately 3,000 Israelis: 1,600 Israelis attended 40 parlour meetings, 400l joined educational trips, 1,000 viewed the movie; and more than 350 Palestinians joined in 24 house meetings. Again recognizing the asymmetry of the conflict and the privilege Israelis have, the Encounters program is primarily geared towards an Israeli audience, explaining the differential in participant demographics numbers. While some of the programs are open to the general Israeli and Palestinian publics, others are directed specifically towards the target audience of educating Israeli youth in high schools and pre-army preparatory schools before they are indoctrinated by the military.
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