Started in July 2010 and run by the School for Peace and Palestinian partner Tawasul with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the “Change Agents” program is designed to bring together Jews and Palestinians who are working in important target sectors: environmentalists, women journalists and up-and-coming politicians.
The goal of the "Change Agents" program is to promote and strengthen capacity of professionals as a tool to prepare the Israeli and Palestinian societies for sustainable peace and reconciliation. The program creates a cadre of 120 Israeli and Palestinian professionals dedicated to cooperation and community-based reconciliation; and provides tools and supporting expertise for them to design and implement cooperative projects leading to a constructive peace process.
The “Change Agents” program addresses many of the most difficult issues of the conflict: language, land, rights, security, racism, superiority, inferiority and privilege. Participants will gain a better understanding of the sources of conflict, and the ability to analyze more realistically factors that escalate conflict.
You can now visit the Change Agents website at: www.change-agents.org
This is the third time the School for Peace is awarded USAID funding for this landmark program; starting this year, the program will focus more on equipping the participants with skills to develop and implement projects in their field and communities that can truly impact the society toward equality, understanding and cooperation between Jews and Palestinians, thus preparing the two societies for a fair and sustainable peace.
In 2007/2009, the School for Peace, in partnership with Palestinian NGO Hewar, had run a similar program, the "Advocates for Change" with great success. Former participants shared their experience:
An Israeli participant: “The first bi-national workshop was more intensive in the dialogue between us and more emotional since it was the first meeting but now, I feel more optimistic that we came out with something we can practically do, something real.”
A Palestinian participant: “In the first bi-national workshop I felt there were many barriers between us and I had doubts about the continuation; in this workshop many of the barriers fell down. I have optimism on the continuation of our cooperation. What helped really is that we could go out with something practical that we can continue to work on.”
Participants repeatedly report that they have acquired a leadership role with respect to Arab-Jewish, Israeli-Palestinian issues at their places of employment. They raise challenging questions in an attempt to combat inequality or racism. They organize special trainings for their co-workers. In short, they are now functioning as agents of change in their societies.
Download two success stories: mental health workers initiating social change in their communities and how Advocates for Change participants organized an event in Jaffa during the conflict in Gaza.
“Change Agents: Israelis and Palestinians in Dialogue and Action” is made possible with the generous support of USAID and the American People in cooperation with the School for Peace at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam and Tawasul.