Lending A Helping Hand

Hand In Hand Students

Hand In Hand Students

Gabriel Greenwood & Ava Kendrick, Guest Correspondents

When we, Americans, think of Israel we think of what we hear on the news: the military engagements and Jewish-Arab disagreement. We generally know of the Jewish citizens located in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, however we never think of the rest of the Israeli citizens- the 48ers (the Palestinians who were granted Israeli citizenship in the war of 1948).There has been a long standing conflict between the Jewish and Arab groups in Israel, one that has instigated violence from both sides. This is not a small skirmish, but a fight that has gone so far as to create segregation in schools.

However, two men, Lee Gordon and Amin Khalaf, found a way to combat the deep division. From the belief that children could change the course of this conflict, the Hand in Hand school system was born. In 1997, they decided to create a place where the young people of the communities could come together and learn both sides of the history, where they could learn that Jewish and Arab people can, in fact, get along. In each classroom, they have two teachers — one Jewish and one Arab — teaching the same thing in their individual languages, eventually having the students learn both. Not only that, but in their history programs, the students are taught the same history from two different perspectives — something that is harder on the teachers themselves than anyone else. This allows for the students to see both groups as humans instead of as the “bad guy”. There are now five such schools throughout Israel, and there are plans for more.

This system draws a lot of attention, both positive and negative. Ever since it first began, the buildings have been subject to vandalism and threats. Only recently, though, has any serious property damage been done: arson. On November 29th, two kindergarten classrooms were burnt down, and violent slogans were spray-painted across the property. These slogans were pointed towards the Arab students and the school’s liberal ideals. It was a huge blow to general student happiness, but every single student was in attendance the day after the attack. They are resilient young people, determined to be the generations that change their country.

This may seem like old news: it happened in November! The thing is, the conflict still persist, and these students are very much real. If you have time, please share this story. For more information on Hand in Hand, go to http://www.handinhandk12.org/