“Is it possible to resolve a conflict that has lasted for so long?” four Arab and Jewish women living in Israel, asked in 1995 and “What can we do to help?” This is how it all began.
Our conflict, also known as the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, has lasted for anywhere between 100 to 140 years, depending on whom you ask and when you begin counting, with over 236,000 casualties, and unfortunately, there does not seem to be an end in sight.
In 1995 four of us decided to use our skills as facilitators to do something for peace. In 1995-1996 school year we began our first program for kindergarten teachers and in 2003 nine of us formed ‘Together Beyond Words’, a non-profit organization whose goals have been to empower and train women and more recently men in skills that promote a culture of peace. The process involves meeting, getting to know one another as human beings, developing a caring relationship and finally working together for change.
Our own multi-disciplinary approach — including dance, noncompetitive movement games, healing touch and listening partnerships — is designed to create deep connections while transforming pain and trauma. This method is called ‘Beyond Words’ and works quickly in breaking down barriers and building trust.
In our workshops Arab and Jewish women experience the ‘Beyond Words’ approach together. This experience enables them to see that beyond all differences of culture, tradition, religion and even nationality there is so much more they share as women, mothers and wives. Once they become aware of similarities between them and learn to understand, respect and appreciate their differences, they can bring their unique skills and work together to create a change. In a society where prejudices and conflict between Arabs and Jews, Israelis and Palestinians have lasted for so many years, there is an extraordinary power when women on both sides can work together to build a common future.