Working with Those Committed to
Peace in Israel

Do the people of Northern Ireland have something to share with the people in Israel? Is it possible that empowerment is an antidote to resignation? In 2001, these questions brought a new sponsor and two Israeli delegates to the Ireland Conference to assess how applicable and effective the Mastery Foundation's approach might be in Israel and the Middle East.

Based on that experience and a subsequent visit to Israel in the summer of 2002, a group of 14 Arabs and Jews already at work on peace and reconciliation within Israel attended the 2002 Conference and Intensive in Ireland. The following year, another 15 persons participated in the Ireland Intensive and four individuals came to Mississippi to participate in the Community Empowerment Program there. In 2003, we also began to shift from bringing participants to our programs outside to working within Israel.

During this first five years, the focus of our work in Israel was on smaller programs with an emphasis on educating ourselves, building a broad network of relationships among those working on peace and coexistence, and giving them some familiarity with our work. During this time we offered several programs in cooperation with the Yitzhak Rabin Center, the Leo Baeck Center in Haifa and a program in the Arab village of Tamra.

In the summer of 2007, in consultation with our partners and participants in Israel, we crafted a plan for the next five years that includes translating materials into Hebrew and Arabic, training local program leaders through the School for Leadership, and reaching out to those grassroots leaders in smaller organizations and communities who are not normally included in initiatives such as ours. Since then, we have made two trips each year to Israel to move these plans forward.

The response to our programs in Israel has been very positive. There is a growing demand for the type of education we provide – education that offers a dimension of experiential learning and practice along with a new sense of freedom and power to make a lasting difference.