Yachad offers a different Jerusalem

By Jessica Elgot, June 10, 2011
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Leaders from progressive youth movements will meet Palestinian activists and West Bank settlers this summer.

Senior members of the Reform and Liberal Jewish youth movements will take part in a day-long session run by alternative Israel advocacy group Yachad, before the arrival of tour participants for the Israel summer programme.

The day in east Jerusalem, on June 22, will include meeting members of Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity, who conduct weekly protests against the evictions of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

The youth leaders will meet Aryeh King, head of the Israel Land Forum, who lives in a new Jewish settlers' complex in Ras-al-Amud in east Jerusalem. Mr King will give a tour of the "new communities". The day will also include a discussion with representatives of army veteran NGO, Breaking the Silence, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

Hannah Weisfeld, director of Yachad, said: " There will be the opportunity to sit and talk and understand exactly why the settlers feel so motivated to commit their lives to this cause. We hope this will equip madrichim (leaders) to answer questions and incorporate what they have learnt into their tour programme.

"This is part of a wider strategy to give members of the Jewish community opportunities to see and understand multiple perspectives and to hear from people they wouldn't normally have the opportunity to meet."

Ms Weisfeld said she hoped that other youth movements would eventually also participate in the training day. Later this summer, Yachad will run camp training sessions for leaders from Noam, Habonim Dror, RSY and LJY.

RSY are to send eight leaders to the one-day session. Movement worker Richard Pearson said: "We want to give people a robust Zionist education that can sustain criticism. This gives our leaders access to different Jerusalem narratives and prepares them for questions."

The Liberal youth movement worker Josh Dubell said: "This opportunity has never been available before. Hopefully it means the leaders are well-informed when they take the group to Jerusalem."

    Last updated: 2:19pm, June 10 2011