The Freedom School
A young adult learning program for Israelis, aged 20-25. It is a six-month educational program that empowers youth to be activists and educators, working to end the occupation and build an equal and just society for all people in Palestine and Israel.
This program is organized in partnership with Breaking the Silence and Achvat Amim. In January 2020 we welcomed our first cohort. In July, we welcomed our second!
Participants (12-14 people per cohort) live together, in a community house, and for the first two months are immersed in educational lecturers and tours from non-profit leaders, anti-occupation activists and local Palestinians. From there they have the opportunity to complete a four month internship in a nonprofit of their choice, honing their skills and putting their new knowledge into good use and practice. During this time the participants volunteer one day per week in an NGO dealing with the conflict (like CfP, Taayush, education centres in East Jerusalem, Ma’an worker’s Union, Standing Together, Coexistence Forum in the Negev, Women’s cooperative in Kfar Kanna in the North). They get regular coaching and support from the team, and we have 4 follow up meetings to share experience and to give them more learning content.
Our goal is to train the next generation of activists and leaders, and as a follow-up will conduct life interviews with the participants 6 months, 1 year and 3 years after the cohort end. This program intends to build an extensive and supportive alumni network, offering learning, volunteering, community building and working opportunities to all who participate in the program. We will connect alumni with international activists, including (but not limited to) those from Achvat Amim and “All That’s Left”.
Testimonials from this year’s Participants:
“The program is designed in a way that made us want to join political and social activism, while being fully supported and guided along the way.”
“This has been a very important experience for me. The Freedom School is an ideological place that allows in-depth learning about the land that we live in.”
“A fantastic program where you can learn about other narratives, different histories, about the struggles that happen around us. Before this experience we didn’t have a clue about them, as they don’t enter the mainstream Israeli educational system, conversations or media. All the learning opportunities we experienced were professional and well thought-out. We, today’s youth, were given the opportunity to see the pain and complexity of the world. We were seen and listened to. There was a lot of empathy, care and sensitivity. The social aspect of this experience was meaningful. The fantastic group allowed us to deal and digest the complexity, as well as the pain and the difficulties we met on the way.”
“This was a very difficult and intense experience for me, and at the same time it was super important and fantastic, I learned a lot. We met great and inspiring people, we learned about different aspects and faces of the conflict, and about the Israeli society as a whole. It requires a lot of patience to sit and listen and learn, it is intense and it is very much on the left of the political sphere. But for whoever can stand the challenge and who wants to learn and be active in bringing peace to our society, this is a great gift. I am personally very glad that I chose to go for it.”
“This is a program hat demands social change, engagement and activism. I learned about the different aspects of the conflict. We had meetings and in-depth discussions about the social, economical and political situation of Israel and Palestine. We had a great group to lean on, and speakers and experts inspired us to go out there and be active ourselves.”
Currently, there is a lack of a young generation of Israeli activists working in solidarity with Palestinians in the West Bank, and an increasing marginalization of an aging peace and justice movement within Israeli society. This trend is happening in the context of increasing separation of Israeli and Palestinian societies, especially among young people who are coming of age in a post-2nd Intifada reality of highly restricted freedom of movement for Palestinians, and a marked decrease in dialogue or other cross cultural opportunities for meeting people from the other society. The Freedom School addresses this generational gap and builds activist leaders amongst Israel’s youth.
In order to strengthen the joint struggle for an end to the occupation and a just peace, there is a need for Palestinians and Israelis to meet and build relationships of trust in the context of shared resistance to the occupation and support of human rights of Palestinians living under occupation. To enable Israelis to effectively support Palestinians and participate effectively in the struggle for human rights, we have to shift Israeli culture from within. There is a need for more Israeli activists who have a deep understanding of the struggles and systems of oppression within Israeli society, the West Bank and Gaza – who see the realities of the occupation and conflict, and most notably: their interconnectedness. The Freedom school, with its model of joint education, activism and leadership training helps guide passionate young adults on a path to truly make a difference within their society.