Friday, September 21, 2012 | 9:24 AM
Labels: Middle East
Despite the fact that Israeli Arab and Jewish youth live in the same country and even study at the same universities, they often grow up without meeting. When tensions rise in the region, this lack of mutual understanding can lead to stereotyping, hostility and even violence.
We believe the Internet can help break down these barriers. In honor of today’s 30th annual International Day of Peace, we’re partnering with the Peres Center for Peace, a non-profit organisation founded by the President of Israel and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres. The center promotes cooperation and peacebuilding between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel as well as between Israel and its Arab neighbours.
Together, we’ll be holding a series of Hangouts on Google+ designed to enable dialogue between Israeli Arab and Jewish students. “Hanging Out for Peace” is a six-month project that will involve nearly 150 Israeli university students, women and men, with an equal number of Arabs and Jews. Students will be divided into mixed Jewish and Arab ‘circles’, matched with other students who study the same subject at university.
The circles will meet via Hangouts on Google+, led by instructors from the Peres Center, and will undertake online and offline projects related to the circle’s area of academic focus. After a series of Hangouts, the students will meet face to face, present the projects they’ve developed to the larger group of participants and discuss issues that arose during their work together.
The Internet provides a perfect platform for dialogue and cooperation. It can help overcome physical barriers and connect people from different cultures who have shared interests and common values. We’re excited to see how this project develops and hope that, in a small way, it will help foster coexistence and understanding between Israeli Jews and Arabs and, in the future, build bridges between other communities too.