The village is unique, as is its school. Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam was founded more than 30 years ago by an equal number of Arab and Jewish families as an experiment in peaceful coexistence. The 'School for Peace' is a training centre for young adults, founded and managed by Dr. Nava Sonnenschein. Since 1979 nearly 40,000 people from both 'sides' have received training there in non-violent conflict management. The goal is to help them to deal individually with the struggle for power in Israel/Palestine, and to act as trainers who can teach others to apply the same methods.
The 'critical dialogues' that have been developed at the centre are not aimed at creating superficial sympathy between the participants. "Understanding and compassion alone can't solve the conflict," says Dr. Nava Sonnenschein. The aim of the courses is to help people understand their own history as a culturally influenced story – and in so doing gaining understanding of the fact that the other group in turn has its own individual narrative. In the process, feelings of pain and injury can arise – the emotional side of the conflict is not suppressed, but allowed to express itself. All dialogues are well moderated and supervised.
Respect for an entirely different interpretation of history forms the basis for recognising the right of others to exist. In further courses those young persons who are especially motivated learn how they can play a positive role in the political process of rapprochement as 'change agents'.
Because her method is especially effective, Dr. Nava Sonnenschein is in demand throughout the world as a trainer. She has already held courses in Costa Rica, Cyprus and the Balkans.