Interested in Middle East Peace? Last week in Part I, we spoke with Hadas Gottlieb, the Principal at the Eastern Mediterranean International School in Israel or EMIS. In Part II, we spoke with a Jewish Israeli student & a Muslim Palestinian Student from EMIS, a high school that brings together Israeli Jews and Arabs, Palestinians and international high school students from across national and cultural divides for a life-changing educational experience.
You may have noticed that we aren’t using the students’ names. We hope that this is an overabundance of caution, but we are doing the interview using these constraints, because of the fact that it can be dangerous for people accused of normalization in Palestinian communities, combined with the horrific tragedy in Texas. We want the students to be, and feel safe.
It is such an honor to speak to the next generation that will hopefully fix this mess we’ve left them. We feel it is such a unique experience to have this opportunity to speak to these two young people who now live together at school, yet whose communities at home, often look at the “other” as enemies. Speaking with the students leading up to our interview was inspiring, and if other students are as impassioned to improve their reality, we are in great hands. Hearing what it’s like to go to high school with the “other,” as well as the impact of living with people from so many different cultures and the influence it’s had on them personally, was a lesson in remaining open to new experiences, the necessity to truly listen, confronting their own perceptions, and ultimately transformation. Admittedly, it made me want to be a teenager again and share some of the experiences they’ve had. What an exceptional opportunity filled with growth and possibility! The school’s motto, “The School for Change,” fits their experience in myriad ways.
A non-profit founded in 2014, EMIS is home to 190 students. 20% are Israeli Jews and Arab, 20% come from Arab and Muslim nations and 60% hail from 40 other countries around the world. Each brings their own identity and perspective and together they weave a colorful tapestry that welcomes difference while finding common ground. Students live and learn, together for two years in a vibrant community that celebrates pluralism, nurtures entrepreneurship and fosters outstanding academic skills. EMIS offers students several academic tracks to pave their way to the best of higher education. Their academic curriculum follows the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. The social and educational EMIS experience teaches diversity, dialogue and the value of Peace. EMIS also teaches respect for the environment and promotes sustainability as a way of life.
Hearing how the younger generation approach one another, live together from different cultures and face difficult issues, none more so than Peace in the Middle East, was enlightening.
Our prayers go out to the families suffering in Texas for their lost loved ones, and continue to go out to the people of Ukraine. And as always, we conclude with a prayer, that Everyone will someday Live in Peace, שלום and سلام.
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