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May 2013

Hello Friend,


You may have heard that Peace it Together organized a symposium from February 27-28 entitled, Struggling with Peace: Grounding peace work in action and change. It was an incredible two days of dialogue and critical exploration of issues related to peace building in Palestine and Israel.

This special newsletter provides a snapshot of this event, and what Peace it Together took away from our expert speakers. 

A Critical Junction: Moderator Aaron Lyons and Mahmoud Jabari
listen as Yael Tsabari speaks about critical peace building

Click here to see more photos

For the past month our staff, youth and board members have been reflecting on the key themes we felt emerged from the symposium. We have been considering how people-to-people peace building programs like ours can evolve to reflect the best practices promoted by expert practitioners and peace builders in Palestine and Israel. These issues were front of mind for us long before the symposium, and will continue to be hereafter. We see this as only the beginning of a very important conversation.


While there were many important points made and explored throughout the symposium, here is what we heard, most often and most powerfully:

  1. Moving beyond friendships, towards partnerships
    A sustainable and just peace between Palestinians and Israelis will not be achieved simply through the ability to co-exist, but rather, on the ability of Israelis and Palestinians to create effective partnerships. Partnerships between participants of peace-building programs and the staff that lead them must be equitable to be effective. Equity involves accounting for power differentials so the two groups can take meaningful action together, and work in solidarity towards fostering a just peace.
  2. The occupation, power imbalances and the realities on the ground: Let’s get talking
    As was shared during the symposium, both Palestinians and Israelis experience loss, grief and pain, and people on both sides feel deeply connected to the land. At the same time peace builders need to acknowledge that Palestinians and Israelis are not on equal ground in this conflict. It was clear from our featured speakers that in order to be effective, peace programs must ensure that participants talk about the occupation and how it impacts the lives of Palestinians.
  3. Action, action, action!
    A focus on action is necessary for peace-building programs to be successful. Workshop participants were eager to find new ways to make a difference. We understand that peace-building programs should tailor their work around this outcome if they want to make a real impact on the ground.

Vancouver Playback Theatre reenacts a frightening experience
shared by Sulaiman Khatib during ART:WORK


Want to read more? Be sure to visit the What's New section of our website. Over the course of the next nine weeks, these and many more symposium topics will be explored in a series of posts on our blog.

Read the first of these blog posts, published today:

Towards critical peace building in
Israel and Palestine

Look for the 'Participate in the Discussion' tool at the bottom of each post to leave your feedback via Facebook. What did you take away from Struggling with Peace?



This special symposium represents a key moment in our development as an organization committed to providing programming that is meaningful, impactful, ethical and worthwhile. We are looking forward to incorporating what we learned from our guests and audiences at this symposium in all our future programming. A new Strategic Plan, currently in development, will reflect priorities identified during Struggling with Peace, and will guide Peace it Together going forward.

Our next dialogue and filmmaking program is scheduled for the summer of 2014.

 Sulaiman Khatib, watches fellow peace builders from
Palestine and Israel present during ART:WORK


Peace it Together relies on donations from our supporters to organize events like this symposium, and to fund our youth-centered programming.

Click here to donate to Peace it Together

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to peace building, and for your support as Peace it Together moves in new and exciting directions.




The Peace it Together team


Here's what our featured speakers told us about the symposium:

  • Rutie Atsmon said that publicly addressing key issues in our work through Struggling with Peace was courageous, and illustrates the importance of peace-building organizations being open and reflexive.
  • Sulaiman Khatib said that the symposium signals Peace it Together's commitment to engaging critically with the issues in order to truly affect change.
  • The symposium emodied the tenants of community-based work, which is "empowering, true and rooted in a transparent process," said Yael Tsabari
  • Mahmoud Jabari said the symposium itself, as well as how Peace it Together responds to the recommendations that emerged from it, can serve as a model for other organizations who wish to conduct transparent assessments of their programming.

We also take feedback from our audiences seriously. Here's some of what we heard from you:*

  • An overwhelming majority of those who attended the panel learned something new about the conflict or about peace work - approximately
    85% of those who attended said the panel offered them “fresh new insights.”

  • Many were grateful for the opportunity to hear from those personally and actively involved in the region, and said listening to Israelis' and Palestinians' experiences firsthand was far more powerful than reading about the conflict in the news, or discussing it in academic settings.

  • Using art to explore the conflict proved intensely effective - approximately
     3/4 of those who attended ART:WORK said the event helped them understand personal experiences – their own and those of others – in a new way.

We also heard:

  • The symposium would have been enhanced by greater engagement with communities affected by the conflict, (particularly Palestinians).

  • The panel discussion may have been more engaging if panelists had more diverse opinions on the conflict, peace work, and normalization.
  • Both the panel and the workshop could have benefited from less prefatory content, so more time could be spent exploring key issues in depth, or organizing to take specific actions together.

Thank you for your feedback. We hope to structure any future events in a way that considers these factors carefully and sincerely.

*Statistics are based on initial analyses of feedback forms collected.



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