Interfaith Encounter Association

Contact Information

Areas of Expertise

The Interfaith Encounter Association has expertise in a range of areas, including:

Main Aims and Objectives

The Interfaith Encounter Association (IEA) works to promote genuine coexistence and sustainable peace, through joint community building on the grassroots level, using interactive interfaith dialogue as its vehicle. The a-political and all-inclusive approach of the organization and its activities continuously form the human infrastructure for peace in the Holy Land.

In its ten years of existence, the IEA have held – in its three regional focuses: in Israel, between Israelis and Palestinians and in the larger Middle East – more than 1200 programs, with thousands of participants. A most significant fact is that the participants in IEA programs include people of all political and religious views, as well as all ages, genders, walks of life etc; and that the vast majority of them have met ‘the other’ for the first time through IEA. The IEA have formed till now 45 on-going community-groups of interfaith encounter – from the Upper Galilee to Eilat, including 10 groups that bring together on a regular basis Israelis and West Bank Palestinians. Among the latter, IEA maintains the three only groups in the country that bring together Palestinians with Settlers.

Upholding the Principles of Conflict Transformation

All IEA’s work manifests these principles. To highlight one aspect: the IEA provides a platform of encounter in which participants can share thoughts and experiences from their deeper existential levels, to learn what they have in common and to explore their differences – all in constructive manner that supports the relationships building during the conversations. This provides a way for Israelis and Palestinians both to develop friendships with people they disagree with and to exercise a transformed mode of maintaining their identity, including where its principles that contradict the principles of ‘the other’, with mutual respect.

Where and with Whom

IEA works mainly throughout the Holy Land (see below for a list of its groups). IEA also supports the Middle East Abrahamic Forum and its extention the Euro-Mediterranean Abrahamic Forum that met so far in Cyprus, Germany, Jordan and Poland.

The following is a list of all IEA’s groups, listed from north to south:

  • Ma’alot
  • Acre
  • Karmiel-Majd el Krum
  • M’ghar – Sawa Rabina
  • M’ghar – Shibolot
  • M’ghar – Bridging
  • M’ghar – Lana
  • M’ghar – Green Light
  • Galilee (WIE)
  • Haifa (WIE)
  • Haifa University (YIE)
  • Carmel City
  • Jordan Valley College (YIE)
  • Wadi Ara (WIE)
  • Living together in Wadi Ara
  • Netania-Qalansawa
  • Tel Aviv University(YIE)
  • Petach Tikva – Kfar Kasem
  • Tel Aviv – Jaffa
  • A/Nahnu-Mt. Scopus (YIE)
  • Language Exchange I (YIE)
  • Language Exchange II (YIE)
  • Abu Dis and Maaleh Adumim
  • Prayer Focused
  • Reut-Sadaqa
  • Study and Dialogue
  • Jerusalem (WIE)
  • Jerusalem (YIE)
  • Jewish-Christian Study of the Gospel of Mathew
  • Ein Karem – Health Equality for all People in Israel (HEFAPPII)
  • Jerusalem Arabic Speaking Group
  • Bibliodrama Workshop Group
  • The Future – Mothers and Daughters (WIE)
  • Interfaith Visits
  • Hebrew University/Bethlehem University (YIE/IPD)
  • Teens (YIE)
  • Women’s Empowerment (WIE)
  • Gush Etzion (IPD)
  • Circle of Light and Hope (IPD)
  • Midwives (WIE/IPD)
  • Jerusalem-Hebron Religious Leaders (IPD)
  • Jerusalem-Hebron (YIE/IPD)
  • Jerusalem-Hebron II (YIE/IPD)
  • Israeli-Palestinian Teens Group (YIE/IPD)
  • Eilat

Key:

  • Women’s Interfaith Encounter (WIE);
  • Youth Interfaith Encounter (YIE);
  • Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue (IPD)

Main Activities in the Field of Conflict Transformation

IEA continues its efforts to bring more people from across the region together, helping create hope for a new generation through increased programming for children and youth. In 2010, for instance, IEA sponsored 165 encounters and events of various interfaith groups. Sixty of these encounters involved children, youth, and university students. Cumulatively, over 4,000 people attended IEA’s groups in 2010, many taking part on a regular basis. IEA sponsors groups meeting both within the ‘Green Line’ and in the West Bank, providing safe spaces for respectful discussions of issues relating to participants’ religious beliefs. It is through these meetings, discussions, and time spent together that warm and understanding relationships are built and maintained among people of different faiths, cultures, and communities.

General Program

In 2010, IEA founded four new interfaith encounter groups and revived one of its oldest, a unique encounter that brings the children of two schools, the A-Sallam School of Majd el-Krum and the Dekel School from Karmiel, together for learning and recreation. Two of IEA’s newly founded groups are youth groups, one for the youth of Hebron and Jerusalem, and one for the students of Jerusalem University and Bethlehem University. In addition to the new groups aimed at children and youth, an interfaith prayer group was founded and has been meeting regularly in Jerusalem. This particular group has attracted attendees from many countries including Israel, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, France, UK, USA, Korea, and Italy.

2010 also saw the beginning of a new and exciting initiative involving religious leaders of different faiths working together. The first meeting took place in Hebron and involved three Rabbis—the head of a Modern Orthodox Yeshiva, a teacher there, and an Ultra Orthodox leader of a local Breslav Chassidic community — and a leading Sheikh. The second meeting, which took months of effort to make possible, included the original participants plus another head of an important Yeshiva, the spokesman of the Jewish Settlers of Hebron and his son, the leader of another important Hebron family, the head of a major Dawa center, and two popular Imams from Hebron.

A particular high point of the year was an achievement of the A/Nahnu Students Interfaith Encounter group. On 14 December, thanks to the members of this group, Jewish and Arab, from all parts of the political spectrum, a Muslim Prayer Room was opened at the Mt. Scopus campus of Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Israeli-Palestinian Dialogue

In addition to regular meetings, the IEA also sponsored four Israeli-Palestinian retreats, conferences, and other events in 2010. These have included several Israeli-Palestinian interfaith encounter retreats—one of them supporting IEA’s Gush Etzion Interfaith Encounter group and another supporting its Jerusalem-Yata Youth Interfaith Encounter group. Together with friends at the Palestinian Peace Club from Yata, IEA held the 30th Retreat of Israeli-Palestinian Interfaith Encounter. The first Euro-Mediterranean Abrahamic Forum took place, very successfully, in April 2010. The event was organized by IEA in cooperation with organizations from Jordan, Palestine, Belgium, and Poland.”

Additional Information

For its work the IEA has been recognized by UNESCO as “an organization that promotes the culture of peace” and awarded the 2006 Prize for Humanity by the Immortal Chaplains Foundation. In 2007, two of IEA’s coordinators won the Women’s Peace Initiative Award of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding and the IEA was the recipient of the 2007 INTR°A-Project Award for the Complementation of Religions of The Institute for Interreligious Studies. The film “Interfaith Encounter in the Galilee”, produced by IEA to present the work of its school-twinning project, was awarded the Commendable Effort by the World Peace Film Award 2007 of the World Movement for Global Democracy. In May 2008, the IEA was one of the sixty projects, selected as “the entrepreneurial projects that will change the face of Tomorrow” to present at the Israeli Presidential Conference – one of only eleven social projects and the only project of peaceful coexistence.

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