Summary of 2012-2013 activity
This summary encompasses the period of July 2012 to August 2013. As Friendship Village is primarily an educational organization, its main activity takes place mostly during the academic year.
After a very difficult year, where there were doubts if following an extreme reduction of funding resources the association would be able to continue functioning, there was a noticeable recovery of activity. We could not re-activate the "Nemashim" project (and it seems that there is no possibility of renewal), the regular work in both two other projects was restarted.
1 - Thanks to a large grant received from Caritas Switzerland, the YLPD project (Young Leaders Peace Dialogue), an Israeli-Palestinaian project implemented for six years, started to be implemented again after a year off. Upon the conclusion of GIl Cohen's job (the project coordinator, who ran it for three years), the project direction passed on to Keren Assaf, with the same Palestinian partners for the last four years. The first cycle of the project took place on October 2012-March 2013. As the agreement with the Swiss foundation included funding for three cycles, we started the second cycle, including this time only social and political women activists, on April 2013 and it has been finished in the end of October of this year.
In the mean time, Keren Assaf, the project coordinator, announced that after very successful directing of two cycles of this project, she is planning to travel to the USA to continue her studies. The job was given to Eliana Almog, who is very familiar with the project as she worked there for several years as a facilitator. Eliana has organizational experience in project management with other NGOs and we hope she that will rise up to this difficult challenge. We all wish her well. Raymonda Mansour, the Association's educational coordinator continues to be responsible for the educational part, so that now the project's staff is composed of Eliana, Raymonda and the Israeli and Palestinian facilitators who work with them for many years. They both work in full harmony with our Palestinian partners (Center for Citizenship & Democratic Transformation), with whom we are working in this project for the last six years.
2 - The second project: " Woman Educators for Peace, Democracy & Human Rights", which we call an "academic project" as it is in cooperation with several academic institutions at the North of Israel and takes place for 9 years already - also renewed activity with the arrival of donations additional to the few grants we received at the end of 2011. In the second semester of 2011-2012 (Spring 2012) there were two courses whilefor the 2012-2013 academic year we planned five courses. Here, Revital the project coordinator had an unexpected personal problem in the summer of 2012. As she believed that problem would be resolved in a very short time, Revital did not pass on her role to someone else, but when it turned out that the problem is more serious than it seemed, it was already too late to organize the courses for the for the first semester (Fall-Winter 2012). Therefore she succeeded to organize just two courses in the second semester. On the other hand, Revital managed to organize two Summer Training courses of advanced studies for teachers from Gordon College, one of them at Kfar Mrar in the Galilee, where there is an extention of Gordon College.
In summary, all together 4 academic courses were conducted during this year of activity.
In the near future
As to the middle of 2013, the association's activity is guaranteed to continue up to the end of 2014 thanks to a signed contract with Caritas Switzerland. In the meanwhile we are making efforts to gain additional support for the two projects. In case we will find other funding resources, we have plans for additional projects, which would be able to realize with the existing staff.
As for now, the situation is as follows:
1 - The academic project - Revital Yonai coordinator. Towards the 2013-2014 academic year we would probably be able to conduct five courses in two semesters. We are continuing the connections with the veteran partners: Yezreel Valley Academic College, Gordon Academic College, Haifa University and Oranim Academic College. We also made connections with David Yelin Academic College in Jerusalem, Jordan Valley Academic College and the Open University. In case we receive additional funding, we will be able to expand our activity to additional academic organizations. In any case, we must remember that this is a modular project, and we will be able to conduct project according to the funding we'll have, when each course costs about $8,000.
YLPD (Young Leaders Peace Dialogue) - this is an expensive project, whose yearly cost exceeds 100,000 Euro. The problem is that without full funding, there is no way to implement it. However, our signed agreement with Caritas Switzerland makes possible its continuity until the end of 2014. This Foundation undertook funding three cycles continuously until the end of 2014. At the beginning of 2014 we are going to start the third - and at the meantime the last - cycle of the project. As - according to the Projects long term plan - we mean to hold once in every three years a General Gathering of all graduates of this important project, we plan to realise this Gathering in December 2013.
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Upon reducing our activity from three projects to two, our budget was also reduced accordingly. Although in the past we thought to expand our activity through additional projects, unfortunately, these ideas could not been implemented because of lack of funds, but with continuous efforts to raise money, we might succeed to get funds for them. We are talking about Jewish-Arab trekking course, aimed to present both sides' narratives in various geographic locations in Israel. We also talked about preparatory courses to incorporate Arab workers, especially academicians and Hi-Tech workers in work places with Jewish employers. We are also thinking about dialogue-facilitators course. No doubt that if we'll have the necessary funds, we will be able to promote these subjects. Nevertheless, we realize that the difficulty in raising money abroad is increasing. Inside Israel there is almost no chance of gaining fund, even very low, to educate for Peace and Jewish-Arab co-existence. The establishment has no budgets for this and it is not existent in the government' lexicon. There is funding for veterans-newcomers dialogue, religious-secular dialogue but total disregard to the Jewish-Arab dialogue.SImilar situation is in private donations and Israeli funds. No project regarding Jewish-Arab cooperation has a chance to receive any grant or donation from any Israeli source.
It is very frustrating to realize that together with increasing nationalist radicalization among the Jewish and Palestinian population alike, there is decreasing in support to forces trying to strengthen inter-cultural cooperation and communication and the establishment only adds to the radicalization. In view of this dire situation, we must congratulate those few suporters who are still trying with remarkable tenacity to promote joint projects aimed at building trust and cooperation between Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians in this miserable conflicting country.
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I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all our donors who supported us along the 2012-13 activity year. It is only due to their good will that Friendship Village succeeds to promote Jewish-Arab and Israeli-Palestinian rapprochement and cooperation.
Bay Fdn. (Switzerland)
Bloch Fdn. (Switzerland)
Otta per Mille (Valdesian Church - Italy)
U.S.Embassy in Israel Humanitarian Trust (UK)
Jonatan Peled – General Director July 2013