The Real Middle East Peace Process Is Raising Arab and Jewish Children Hand in Hand

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Peace in three languages at Hand in Hand schools
Peace in three languages at Hand in Hand schools

Lee Gordon and Amin Khalaf, Israeli friends, one Jew and one Arab joined forces in 1997 to do something that placed the Mideast peace process into the right hands. Theirs. They opened Hand in Hand, a school to educated Jews and Muslims together from kindergarten through high school, to raise them together as devoted friends.

Living Hand in Hand photo by Amal Mattar
Living Hand in Hand photo by Amal Mattar

They began with one school – equal number of Arabs and Jews, equal number of boys and girls, with classes are taught in Arabic and Hebrew by teachers who are Muslims and Jews. Now there are seven schools scatter through Israel, and the waiting list grows faster than the schools can be built. Yes, because these parents want their children to grow up in a safer world, a world in which people will not be in peril for their cultural and religious differences.

2nd graders in Jerusalem Hand in Hand
2nd graders in Jerusalem Hand in Hand

Listen to Lee talk about how Hand in Hand became the school it is, where it is headed, how students handle cultural and political differences, and what happens once students finish high school. Hear the stories about putting an end to fear and hatred. One teen had to assure her terrified grandmother that there was no danger in her to sleeping over at her Muslim girlfriend’s house with a the simple phrase, a phrase that will, hopefully, be so second nature someday that it will be a given. Students talk about their school and what they want from life and the society they want to live in. Get a box of Kleenex. And, know that the world can be set on a better course. Not that it is without challenges, but while the politicians are flailing and failing at creating peace, Lee Gordon and Amin Khalaf with teachers and students at Hand in Hand are getting the job done day by day and hand in hand.

First day of first grade at Hand in Hand
First day of first grade at Hand in Hand
Parents in the Wadi Ara Hand in Hand School
Parents in the Wadi Ara Hand in Hand School

This is a most powerful statement that the only thing better than teaching people how to get along with those on the “other side” is getting them to realize that when you get right down to it, past the fear, over the hatred, there is no other side. Humankind, at its best, is one.

Lee Gordon co-founder of Hand in Hand
Lee Gordon co-founder of Hand in Hand
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