Monday, January 23, 2006

Jewish-Palestinian students vote together in Israel

Jewish and Palestinian Students in Israel Vote Together
For Immediate Release: January 23, 2006
Contact: Deanna Armbruster (856-235-6200),

Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, Israel - With national elections upcoming in both the West Bank/Gaza at the end of January and in Israel in March, Jewish and Arab students at Israel's first bilingual, binational Primary School/Junior High School in Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam ("Oasis of Peace" in both Hebrew and Arabic) have been focused on the democratic process, and on every person's right to express their opinion, as long as it does not disparage, insult or trample on the rights of others to live with dignity and in peace.

Elections, held at the beginning of the school year, for class committees and student council representatives were an opportunity for the students to experience democracy first-hand. "The candidates were each given the stage to present their own political platform," said teacher Ety Edlund. "The children prepared slogans and posters and visited all the other classes for their election campaign."

Founded more than 20 years ago, the Primary School/Junior High School at the "Oasis of Peace" was the first, and remains one of only a handful of schools in the region, where Jewish and Arab children learn together in the same classes with equal respect for Arabic and Hebrew.

"Such activities bring the entire student body population together, regardless of grade, religion, or national identity. Certainly, this unique school faces many challenges with the ongoing tension and violence facing Israelis andPalestinians," said Edlund.

"Yet, as the students learn together and vote together the walls of culture, religion, language, and ethnicity that divide them, start tumbling down."

The elected student leaders have taken their responsibilities to heart. One of the challenges facing the school is improving the quality of Arabic language education for all students in a society where Hebrew is the dominate language.

Students have taken on the challenge themselves by arranging an Arabic-only school break with special activities where all students (Jewish and Arab) must speak only Arabic. Activities have included remembering the 10th anniversary of the assassination of PM Yitzhak Rabin, and other programs arranged by each class level where all students participate.


American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat Al-Salam
4201 Church Road, Suite 13, Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054
Tel. 856-235-6200, Fax 856-235-4674