International Conference at Sapir College:
Gaza – Sderot
Moving from Crisis to Sustainability
February 14 - 17, 2011
The Gaza-Sderot region has known violence, war, and tensions for the past 10 years.
This region has known Israeli military incursions and a blockade on the Gaza Strip, rocket attacks from Gaza on civilian populations in Sderot and the ever-expanding surrounding
Gaza region, economic and humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, underemployment and unemployment, damage to physical and psychological health, insecurity for all peoples of the region.
Following "Cast Lead" Operation/War and the Gaza Flotilla, the crisis in the region has drawn international attention; however, no serious work has been done to look deeper into the reality of the region and to offer sustainable solutions. In order to address these issues, and to promote sustainable and healthy alternatives to the ongoing political-social-economic crisis characteristic of our region, we will hold an international conference that will bring together scholars, experts, and residents from The Gaza Strip, Israel, the West Bank and from the international community, to meet, discuss, and plan first steps toward achievement of this sustainable human future.
The topics to be covered in this conference include:
The role of civil society (NGOs and grassroots initiatives) in the creation of a sustainable future
Community resilience and empowerment – including leadership development
Environment and ecology
Psychological and physical health
Political obstacles to creating a sustainable future and ways to address them
Economic development – including employment & elimination of poverty
Human and civil rights
Conflict transformation and post-conflict stabilization
Education – formal and informal, from childhood to adult education
Homeland security issues
This conference will be the first coordinated step toward building a sustainable and healthier future for citizens of the region.
The envisioned outcomes of the conference include:
The establishment of working groups that will address specific issues connected to creating a sustainable future and the creation of a network of professionals who will continue to help co-create this future
Publication(s) that combine research findings, and expert knowledge from the field with concrete recommendations, for organizations and people living and working in the region, and for governmental leaders and decision makers.
The conference is a combined initiative of Other Voice Association and Sapir College in partnership with several NGOs in Israel as well as individual Palestinian experts.
For more information on the conference, please feel free to contact:
Dr. Chaitin recently wrote the following article
Stop The Show, But Continue With The Education
By Julia Chaitin
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
More than 270 Israeli academics have signed a petition supporting the Israeli actors and artists who, earlier this week, publicly announced that they refuse to perform in Jewish settlements across the Green Line, in the West Bank. The artists state that they will not entertain the settlers.
In the academics' petition, they write that they too will not participate in any lectures or seminars in any of the settlements.
I support the actors, and I signed a petition expressing this support. I wrote talk-backs supporting their stance. In my opinion, they are brave people for they came out publicly against the injustices of the Occupation, and put their own careers and livelihood at risk.
I do not buy products made in Jewish settlements in the Occupied
Territories. I do not participate in any activity that could be construed as giving legitimacy to the Ariel University Center of Samaria.
However, I cannot sign the academics' petition for the following reasons:
In contrast to the artists (the actors, directors, writers etc), we are academics. A number of us are also peace and social justice activists. Our work is not connected to art, leisure or entertainment.
Our work is in the field of education, teaching and research. We study the Occupation, analyze what it is doing to people on both sides of the border, and discover instances of social injustice (inside Israel proper as well).
Those of us who are also activists are working on the creation of a
different reality: a reality without Occupation, and without infringements of human and civil rights.
Therefore, we must go anywhere and talk with anyone, even if it is really very hard for them to listen to what we have to say and for us to listen to what they have to say, even if they express anger and resentment, and we feel anger and resentment, even if they do not respond politely to what we have to say, and we have to struggle to respond to them in a polite manner.
We have to go anywhere and talk with anyone in order to spread our knowledge, our insights, our understandings and our experience in peace building and elimination of social injustices.
We do not have the privilege to say: "I won't go there and talk to them."
As opposed to the Israeli artists, our 'show' must go on.
In spite of all of the difficulties (and it IS very difficult for us to
speak to ideological settlers), we need to use our expertise in education and teaching to reach more and more people and to undertake discussions that deal with the harsh realities and issues of the Occupation.
To make my perspective clear: The Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegitimate. The Occupation is immoral. And we need to do everything that we can to bring about its end as soon as possible.
However, to refuse to talk to those others who do not agree with us, is not the way. Just as we (Israels) need to make peace with the Palestinians, we (Israelis) need to find the ways to make peace with one another.
It is true; it is easier for many of us to talk and make peace with
Palestinians than it is with the settlers. However, for good or for bad, we need to continue to live here together with Jewish-Israelis who do not share our perspectives on the Occupation. Instead of calling for a boycott of talks with the settlers in the West Bank, we should instead come out with a massive call to all academics and peace activists to hold discussions and seminars with the settlers – yes even in their communities – so that we exploit every opportunity to spread the messages that we know need to be spread.
Julia Chaitin, Ph.D., is a professor in the Dept. of Social Work - Sapir Academic College, Israel. She lives in Kibbutz Urim, near Gaza.