Peace Building Between Israel – Palestine: Eliminating Borders Through Public Health Initiatives
Seibold, Christine Rose
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AbstractThe conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is a long and complicated one. There has been fighting since the turn of the 20th century. The land is historically known and important to Christians, Jews, and Muslims for religious reasons, specifically for the birth of Jesus and his life there, and the ascension of Muhammad. Muslims, Christians, and Jews believe they are entitled to live in the land of Israel/Palestine.
There is a lot of insecurity for both Palestinians and Israelis, but for different reasons. The Muslims and Christians say they have been violently forced from their homes on the land, which is now known as Israel. Many Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel as a separate state, and at times are violent in their fight to take control of the land. In addition, many Israelis do not agree that the land of Palestine was taken away. They believe the land has been their Promise Land for over 3000 years, therefore placing denial of one another’s past and existence at the core of the issues.
Healing Across The Divides (HATD) is a non-profit organization in Israel founded in 2004 by Dr. Norbert Goldfield. Its mission is to improve the health of marginalized people living in Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories via community-based intervention. This non-profit funds and provides technical/managerial consultation to community based organizations in Israel and the West Bank. HATD hopes that by improving health and bringing these groups together will aid in the ability to have Israelis and Palestinians willingly come together to cooperate and be part of the peace building process.
My thesis seeks to answer the following questions: does attempting to improve public health for people living in Israel and Palestine through Healing Across The Divides’ engagement in the community facilitate peace building? Does integrating the two groups together through public health services and education break down tension and barriers? Can cooperation between programs in Israel and Palestine change the attitudes of citizens who suffer from the Israel Palestine conflict?
I hypothesized that community organizations, such as Healing Across The Divides, can help to improve public health, break down relational borders between Israelis and Palestinians, and facilitate peace building between them. My research found that the overall health of the participants that HATD serves is improving. Positive communication, interaction, and an increase in trust to some degree are elements that are needed and are present for breaking down relational borders and moving towards peace. It should be emphasized that many of the staff of the community based organizations and participants did not complete my research questionnaires because of some of the political questions related to the conflict. However, HATD is moving in the right direction by facilitating joint meetings, cross-communication, and shared resources between Israeli and Palestinian staff that are essential in forming trusting relationships and understanding one another to move towards peace.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:37945082