The project brings different groups of Israelis and Palestinians together, to learn about the personal and national narrative of the “other” side
The learning experience in the meetings is based on a combination of historical national information and the personal and familial stories of the participants
All people are born with desires, aspirations and wishes they seek to achieve. But, in societies that live in ongoing conflict, these wishes and aspirations are very much determined by the narrative of the community a person is born into. The community’s story, its perceptions and beliefs, all greatly determine a person’s position and role.
We perceive the narratives we are born into as the truth, and many factors are at play to keep each side only recognizing its own story and tragedies. The physical and emotional distance between the two conflicted communities doesn’t allow either side to hear its counterpart and thus the sides don’t meet or recognize one another.
It is from this perspective that the PCFF initiated the Narratives project. Through this project, we don’t seek to cancel or approve any specific narrative, but rather to create a journey through the personal and national history of each side, through meaningful dialogue, respect and understanding that each personal and national narrative holds a truth in it.
A visit in Kfar Lifta – the youth group of the Narrative Project
Since 2010, the PCFF Parallel Narrative Experience brings together groups of 15 Israelis and 15 Palestinians for a module with unilateral and bilateral workshops and dialogue activities in order to learn about the personal and national narratives of the “other” side, as an important step towards reconciliation between the peoples.
This PNE focuses on reconciliation on the interpersonal levels where individuals deal with changing attitudes, recognizing the past and current situation. They do this by interpreting their personal and historical narratives, and the personal and historical narrative of the other as part of, or a complement to, the larger public and national narrative. The project uses sites such as “Yad Vashem” museum to learn about the Holocaust and the village Lifta which was destroyed in 1948, to learn about the Palestinian Nakba, as a way to provide a concrete context to illustrate the interpretation of historical, personal and national narratives from both sides and the complexity of the conflict.
Despite the charged subjects, the facilitators, who are bereaved PCFF members, make sure they provide a safe space that allows all the participants to take part in an empathic and inclusive dialogue. Participants are exposed to the messages of dialogue and reconciliation as promoted by the PCFF, and understand the importance of recognizing the “other”.
35 groups have already taken part in this project over the years, among them educators, mental health professionals, students, media professionals, social activists and more. When these meetings end, project graduates (alumni) are invited to take an active part in the alumni community, and to join the work and activities for advancing reconciliation between the peoples.
The PNE-based projects have been predominantly funded from the get go by USAID and the EU.