Interns for Peace Groups Gets $25,000 Grant from Ford Foundation

The Eord Foundation has awarded a two-year $25,000 evaluative research grant to Interns for Peace, a non-political organization training Jewish and Arab group workers in Israel who develop joint projects between the two communities, it was announced here by Rabbi Bruce Cohen, the Interns for Peace program director who conceived the idea for the interns in March, 1976. Cohen also announced that plans are now under way to create special programs for similar cooperative ventures between Arabs and Jews in Egypt.

The target of the grant is to evaluate changes in attitude among members of the Jewish and Arab communities in Israel as a result of the work done by the interns who spend a portion of each week in an Arab community assisting local workers on a project and additional time doing similar work in neighboring Jewish towns.

By developing parallel programs in Arab and Jewish communities, interns, under the guidance of an Arab-Jewish field supervisory team, bring the groups together in joint activities, Cohen said “Working towards commonly perceived goals will enable Jews and Arabs to cultivate personal relationships which create the necessary conditions for future fruitful cooperation,” he said.

There are now 10 interns in the program, eight North Americans, one Israeli Jew and one Israeli Arab. Cohen said that recently the Israeli steering committee of Interns for Peace urged an immediate increase of 10 additional scholarships to be offered to qualified Israelis. To assure the program’s continuity, a second group of 20 interns is to begin their training program in the fall of 1980.

This month the initial group of interns concluded the first year of a two-and-a-half-year internship program in three Israeli villages: Tomra (population 15,000 in western Galilee). Ar’Ara and Kfar Kara (population 6000 each near Hadera), Cohen reported. The Arab minicipal councils in each village are funding the apartment rentals for the interns and have been involved in the program’s development since its inception.

A NUMBER OF JOINT PROJECTS

Among the joint projects either under way or in the planning stages are: pre-natal educational training programs for Arab and Jewish women summer camps, scouting and physical education programs for Arab and Jewish youth; a traveling bi-cultural folk dance theater group; a cooperative of Arab and Jewish farmers for purchasing and sharing expensive agricultural equipment; and developing industrial zones in Jewish and Arab communities in the Galilee area to make villages economically more self-sufficient.

Discussing the Ford Foundation grant, Cohen said the study of changing attitudes will be conducted by use of in-depth interviews, questionnaires and continuous observations of the groups’ interactions. Research team members include an Arab, an Oriental Jew and an Ashkenazi Jew, all of whom are Israeli citizens and members of the Haifa, University faculty.

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