The Israel Project........Ran Kuttner, Ph.D.
I am excited that March is a MBB month at the ADRHub. Mediators Beyond Boarders (MBB) is doing important work throughout the world and serves as a great ambassador to our field. I am a member of the Israel Project of MBB, as well as a member of MBB’s training committee. The Israel Project, originally known as the Middle East Initiative, has been working for over two years on establishing relations with and assisting organizations that are involved in cross-cultural mediation and community building in Israel, especially in the ‘mixed cities,’ where diverse communities of Jews and Arabs live together, or where other minority groups are part of the community. These cities are dealing with very complex issues and there is a need for innovative conflict engagement interventions. For example, in Akko, where there were severe cross-cultural riots in 2008, the community mediation center has created a program for crisis response. When a truck crashed into a bus stop in 2011, killing two Israeli soldiers, rumors began to fly that it was a deliberate act by an Arab driver. But the mediation center contacted police and established that it was a Jewish driver who had a heart attack. Mediators fanned out across the city neighborhoods in the area to stop the rumors, and Akko had another “riot that didn’t happen.”
During the past summer, while in Israel, I gave a workshop on leadership skills for a mixed group of Jewish and Arab women mediators working in community mediation centers. I also helped design the fourth annual national conference for community mediation, which was held in Israel in early December. Following a request for assistance in understanding and applying the narrative approach in community mediation in Israel and to work on the sustainability of the community mediation movement, four members of our Project team (Martha Harty, Mark Kleiman, Jay Rothman and Rachel Wohl) travelled to Israel in December and brought Professor Sara Cobb, a leading expert in Narrative Mediation. Cobb, founder of George Mason University’s Center for the Study of Narrative and Conflict Resolution, led three workshops for directors, managers and mediators from community centers all across the country, reviewing the phases and techniques of narrative mediation and demonstrating them in simulations. Professor Cobb was also the keynote speaker in the conference, addressing the issue of how to use narrative mediation techniques to assist parties in private and public disputes, both in mediation sessions and in the community, achieve better understanding and coexistence. . The conference’s title was ‘From Conflict Resolution to Community Building,’ and it included two other MBB workshops:
The team also explored future partnerships, projects, and funding opportunities in visits to mediation centers in three cities where cultural diversity is a focus and in meetings with leaders of the community mediation movement, which provided numerous insights and built important relationships.
The team also reconnected with our original partners in Israel at Wahat al Saalam / Neve Shalom, a unique village established by Jews and Arabs in order to demonstrate and teach coexistence. Mediators there are developing a training curriculum for cross-cultural mediation.
In the future we will continue to support Wahat al Saalam / Neve Shalom in developing its curriculum, support the cross-cultural work of the community mediation centers in the mixed cities, and support progress toward greater sustainability in the community mediation movement in Israel.
For more information on MBB, visit: http://mediatorsbeyondborders.org/