Conflictual and Encouraging

While the participants in the dialogue seminars try to take the perspectives of the „Others“ and together look for strategies of conflict transformation, politicians like the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, through announcing the annexation of the Jordan Valley in case he wins the election, continue a spiral of violence; and conflict resolution seems in the far distant future.

It is all the more impressive when participants, such as Yael* (name changed), encouraged by the seminar, don’t give up in spite of the political situation: “Before the seminar, a  conflict solution seemed unattainable to me. Now I know that we need hope and have to be convinced that solutions are possible.“

This year, for the first time in the history of the project, someone who lives in the Gaza Strip – Nour* (name changed) participated in the women’s seminar: “You have given me the opportunity to open my heart and my mind to people whom I was afraid of”, she describes her experience of the seminar. Nour’s insights and positions particularly enriched the seminar. „I brought my message to the Israelis, they heard it and I believe that they will pass it on.“ A detailed interview, in which she shares her story, will be in our annual report.

Apart from the Women’s seminar, in the Israel-Palestine part of the project, the Allgenders-seminar took place as planned with new partners who combined the political narrative approach with the method of nonviolent communication. It was an exciting and moving pilot seminar and we hope that this partnership will continue to develop positively.

In the meantime, the theater and youth groups with whom we were able to hold the Allgenders-seminar in 2018 continued to implement further follow-up activities up until this summer: in addition to regular meetings, both discussion workshops and small theater performances could take place despite the difficult and tense political situation on the ground.

In the former Yugoslavia, the peace camp in Split, Croatia was characterized by very intensive thematic workshops and new guests and topics. As in previous years, the war and its aftermath were at the center of the peace camp.

For many young people, the encounters are the first opportunity to talk about the war, get factual and unbiased information –  and to find out that there is not just one “truth” about what happened.
The workshop with Ajna Jusic, whose story and that of her mother became famous through the film “Esma’s Secret”, was particularly moving. Ajna talked about her organization „Forgotten Children of War“, which campaigns for the rights of people who, like themselves, were born after mass rape in the war. Nobody talks about it, but to this day they are disadvantaged by law and socially discriminated. Everyone admired Ajna for her courage to deal openly with this situation and to stand up for her dignity.

Serbian human rights activist Sofija Todorovic  impressed everyone with her reports on campaigns for women’s rights, against nationalism and for the rights of the LGTBIQ* community.
„Ajna has conquered our hearts, but Sofija has given us the kick we need to be active ourselves,“ one participant said afterwards.

How inspired the youngsters were became obvious on the penultimate day of the encounter, on which the young people themselves were able to offer workshops about topics they find especially interesting and important. In addition to a dance group, there were eight different thematic workshops. Two young people took Sofija’s words to heart and offered a workshop on LGBTIQ * and gender identities; it was the first time that participants chose to discuss this topic intensively in our encounters.