Press Release BF NSWAS 2009

Press Release by Daniel Z. for the British Friends of Neve Shalom ~ Wahat al Salam
Information contained within let to publication on the matter in a leading national British newspaper. Hyper-Links and some contact details have been removed from this version


Fao: Education Editor / Writer

How to teach Palestine / Israel in your school and reduce conflict amongst teenagers in Britain at the same time?

The dilemma of the recent crisis in Gaza is well known to many schoolteachers across the country. Our media-literate children bring the big questions of international politics right into the classroom. Too often the response by teachers is a shoulder shrug, or referral of the matter to outside the classroom. This can even happen in subjects that otherwise touch on the matter, e.g. citizenship, R.E, geography.

But the search for answers should not be refused. “Children are too bright to allow their questions to be shelved or rebuffed!” says educational trainer Susan Denton-Brown, a former head of R.E, who leads a training course for teachers on behalf of the British Friends of Neve SHalom ~ Wahat al Salam (Oasis of Peace).

The British Friends (with the long name) represent a village that still surprises many by its mere existence, in spite of having been founded over 30 years’ ago. Wahat-al Salam – Neve Shalom, or WaSNS, is a village in which Palestinians and Jews have chosen to live together and establish institutions that demonstrate that choice. Whilst all in the village are citizens of Israel, their impact is felt far across the border, including Britain. The village of WaSNS houses, amongst others, a bilingual, bi-cultural and multi-faith kindergarten and primary school (where children are taught simultaneously in Arabic and Hebrew), a world renowned conflict transformation centre entitled appropriately the School for Peace, a hotel for guests of all backgrounds, and a pluralistic spiritual centre.

“The Gaza war at the beginning of this year represented a great challenge for all the villagers, and also the British Friends,” says UK director Benita Hide, but “we all have been there before, many times, and successfully persevered.” It is especially the commitment to dialogue that acknowledges differences, and an agreement on the shared benefits of peace that has ensured that the community is still a flourishing and growing Oasis of Peace. There are now over 50 families (Jews and Palestinians equally) living on a stretch of former no-man’s land that was once the border between Jordan and Israel up until 1967.

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For teachers in the UK, the British Friends have developed a powerful teaching resource, Dealing with Conflict. Not only does it teach students about this remarkable village, but it gives a chronology of the Palestinian – Israeli conflict since 1919, in two columns; on one side the general Arab / Palestinian version, on the other the Jewish / Israeli. What’s more, there are over 50 activities inspired by the School for Peace, that are carefully integrated to meet different constituents of the citizenship curriculum. Dealing with Conflict not only aims to explain the conflict in the Middle East through games and thoughtful role play, but actually creates awareness of conflicts that may affect students own lives. Everything from identity, personal interests, the role of international organisations and the media, to personal peer pressure is explored.

The charity has given itself a heavy task. Susan Denton-Brown explains: “We are not happy with the mere distribution of the resource, but want to give teachers, and ultimately students, an insight into conflict transformation, and how to deal with conflict. This is why we decided, right from the start, that our resource should be accompanied with some basic training and reflection for the teachers who want to use the teaching pack.”

Dealing with Conflict is an invaluable tool for satisfying government demands for schools to teach community cohesion and mediation skills in their citizenship education programme. The authors have taken time to show how each bit of the pack matches the current needs of the national curriculum (key stages 3- 4).

Finally, there is something for students who strive to discuss and comprehend what they see on TV or read about on the internet regarding Palestine / Israel. The pack is well balanced and resourced and will make a real difference in classrooms across the country.

The next training day for Dealing with Conflict is scheduled for the 3rd of February 2009 at St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace in London.

For all questions, bookings or a pack contact

British Friends of Neve Shalom ~ Wahat al Salam

020 8952 4717

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Notes to editor:

No embargo!

Contacts: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX information removed for privacy

Daniel Zylbersztajn, Press, PR & Education. Member of NUJ, XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Some extracts of Dealing with Conflict and other information can be viewed on (select education).
Training and Facilitation

Introduction to the Resources



The Editors

Further information

1. Who or what is Neve Shalom ~ Wahat al-Salam? Wahat-al Salam ~ Neve Shalom

2. 10 Minute Video about Wahat al-Salam ~ Neve Shalom

3. Binational / Bilingual Primary School of Wahat al-Salam

4. First Lessons In Peace
Inspirations of Peace

5. What is the School for Peace? School for Peace

6. Who are British Friends of Wahat al Salam ~ Neve Shalom (Oasis of Peace)?

Oasis of peace

7. General Press: Church Times, Radio Four Midweek (select 21st of May) , BBC World Wide TV (27th May) , BBC World Service (20th May and June 08 Persian Service), Radio Netherland, Daily Telegraph

8. Susan Denton Brown Article (opens pdf)