Announcing our exciting new project: Moving Forward*
“I believe that peace is possible and I hope that it is my generation who can help to make a
change towards the future that many are waiting for.”
These are the words of a Jewish student from Leeds, who participated in a project which
brought young people from different backgrounds and perspectives together. The aim was
to break down communal and ideological barriers, and help the participants confront deeply held prejudices.
At FODIP, we look at those barriers which exist in the UK between communities where
events in the Middle East are a major factor. Typically these involve faith traditions which
have emotional and religious ties to the Holy Land – Israel and Palestine. Because events
there are such an emotional topic, the many inter faith organisations here, which work hard
to bring people together across religious boundaries, have neither the space nor resources
to explore this sensitively and helpfully.
Every conflict has its own dynamic, its own rationale and its own trajectory. Nevertheless,
for those young people caught up, however tangentially, in such conflicts, the anger,
frustration, latent fear and an overwhelming sense of injustice, are commonly experienced.
And so taking students whose focus is on their own conflict background to meet with young
people in another situation, helps them to consider their own experience in the abstract.
They can hear about others’ experiences and thereby reflect on their own emotions and
approaches and learn from the experience. Forming relationships with others who are
wrestling with the same problems can also help to build a supportive network.
We are therefore excited about launching Tough Options: Moving Forward - an innovative
pilot project led by FODIP and operating in Manchester, in partnership with Corrymeela
based in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland. The two year project has been made possible thanks
to a £161,580 grant from The National Lottery Community Fund and is bringing together
two groups of 35 young people, one from Manchester (focusing on Israeli/ Palestine
conflict) and another in Northern Ireland (focusing on the NI troubles) to examine issues of
conflict, conflict resolution and management within their communities.
In putting together this current project, it was natural for us to think of linking with the
Corrymeela Centre in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland. This is a unique place, whose very
environment invites one to be still and to consider. Not only does the Centre offer visitors
the opportunity to study and reflect on aspects of peace and conflict, but it is within easy
distance of Belfast, where one can explore issues of conflict with the people and
infrastructure of the city through the wider Corrymeela Community.
The young people from England will bring instances of prejudice and mistrust in their own
experiences, focusing on the relationship between Jewish and Muslim communities in
Britain over Israel/Palestine which have created immense problems over the last year and
led to increased antisemitism and islamophobia, including among wider society. The Middle
Eastern conflict has had its resonances in Northern Ireland, too, which will also be explored.
Furthermore, the young people will engage with communities in both locations, working
with faith groups, educational institutions and partner organisations to pass on the learning
and inspire others to move beyond the stereotypes.
The participants will pool their individual experiences and will examine their own conflicts
through the lens of each other’s conflicts. The aim of this work is to build a network of
young leaders who will go onto being a catalyst for conflict resolution and management
within their own communities.
A young Palestinian living in Manchester summed it up for us:
“The Israel - Palestine conflict is an increasingly sidelined topic in the media and the
physical, normal day to day life of a normal individual due to its sensitivity and it being
disregarded as being ' touchy topic'. The youth are the future generation and we all hope that it would be a generation of peace not more conflicts. This FODIP programme strives for this target and educates the youth about the reasons for conflicts and their resolutions for a better tomorrow. After all - we learn from the past to improve in the future.”
*Supported by the National Lottery Community Fund
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