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Project Experts and Coordinator mission
from March 25th to April 3rd

Communication and Advocacy in Conflict Areas
Bologna from January 30th to February 3rd 2008






Project Experts and Coordinator mission
from March 25th to April 3rd

Building constituencies for Women’s alternative Ways for Peace.

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A brief report, Raffaella Lamberti, June 2008

The mission from March 30th 2008 to April 3rd had the following tightly intertwined objectives, that are briefly summarized here below:
1) To monitor the post Bologna implementation of the project;
2) To strengthen the project and its staff along with the two centres of the Jerusalem Link.
3) To think how to work together in the project during the last year.
4) To broaden the background and the social and political networks of the partnership.
5) To strengthen Orlando’s contribution to the work in Israel/Palestine.

In order to achieve these goals, the mission went through different meetings: some were bilateral (with one of the partners) some trilateral (with both the J.L. centres: Bat Shalom and the Jerusalem Centre for Women) others were meetings with key individuals and organizations active in Israel and in the Occupied territories on issues of importance to the project Building constituencies for Women’s alternative Ways for Peace.

The very first evening, upon arrival in Jerusalem, Tuesday 25th, an important, informal and intense meeting was held in West Jerusalem with many Bat Shalom women, including the director, Molly Malekar, a founding member of the board, three of the four facilitators (Neta Rotem, Keren Assaf and Moran Chen); only Revital (ill in those days) was missing from the group who had attended the Bologna Seminar the previous February. The new element in the meeting was the presence of the whole group of new, young women who had just joined the project in West Jerusalem.

For the Italians, Raffaella Lamberti (Director of the Women’s Centre of Bologna (managed by the Associazione Orlando) and scientific supervisor and leader of the Project ; Patrizia Rampioni, project’s coordinator representing “Orlando”; Patrizia Violi, Director of the Department of Communication Studies of Bologna University, member of Orlando. Gabriella Rossetti, professor of Anthropology at Ferrara University, involved in most of the project activities with the role of monitoring them, joined the group the next morning.
The first evening meeting touched upon three issues:

Ø The evaluation of the state of the art of the Project and of the Bat Shalom Centre, in the framework of the ongoing political situation in Israel and with reference to the peace building activities
Ø The presentation of the new group of young members and the discussion of the constraints they met and the successes they achieved.
Ø The perspectives and possible plans for the future joint work with the Partners to implement he project Plan of Action.
The meeting closed with a pleasant getting together for a dinner in a “typical Italian” restaurant of west Jerusalem.
Members with a longer experience in peace building, pointed to the increasing difficulties in the peace negotiations and therefore in the peace movements in their country and mentioned even worse constraints for the Palestinians due to the political split between Gaza and the West Bank. Therefore the constitution of new groups of young activists in West Jerusalem and Tel Aviv thanks to the project which did allow to broaden the membership and constituency of Bat Shalom according to its main goal was really good news.
The group of young women who met in West Jerusalem is mainly made up of university students from different faculties, young educators and some experts in visual arts and communication. They showed energy and initiative not only in the meetings with the Palestinian partners, but also in organising communication activities directed to other fellow students and to the inhabitants of several sections of West Jerusalem where they display photos and other information material always using a participatory methodology, involving the public and new members creating consensus and discussion: all features, which the new participants recognised as a contribution of the coordinator: Neta Rotem.
As for the constraints, they pointed to indifference if not often hostility towards the project activities from their pier groups, but also from their families who did not approve of their meeting with Palestinian women.
As a result of this meeting, a new appointment was fixed, besides the ones already in the agenda. The meeting will take place in a day in which Bat Shalom organises a small flee market in the association’s venues.

The discussion then moved to initiatives and projects, which the Partnership could support jointly in the future to face the difficulties and the fear of the Bat Shalom women not being able to sustain in the future the broadening of their constituency and the training of new activists, facilitators and coordinators in the fields of non violence and human rights.
During all the bilateral and trilateral meetings held in this mission, the theme of continuity and future support for the programme’s newly started activities in peace building and women’s rights would emerge in the discussion over and over again.
The Italian group agreed on the positive evaluation of the new memberships inside Bat Shalom.

The following encounters, maintained the centrality of the Partnership meetings, but took also into account the commitment to broaden the background and the social and political networks of the Partnership itself towards the communication program and the final event.

On the Palestinian side, because of the difficulties to join all together the members of the Palestinians groups, the Italian mission group met - At the Jerusalem Centre for Women (JCW), the Palestinian coordinator, Mariam Irbash with an Irish staff working for a long period in the Centre too; during a pleasant encounter it was possible to discuss the topic of the renewal of the JCW Steering Committee, which was supposed to take place between May and June; and to deal in depth with the joint project and the future joint programs; we verified that the intensity of the relationship established in Bologna between Palestinian an Israeli “friends” was alive, whereas on the Italian part, the Italian partner definitely took its facilitation role as “Third Party”; the commitment towards the project was very high, therefore the Israeli and Palestinian Partners had programmed a joint meeting to be held a few days later that Patrizia Rampioni was supposed to attend coming back from Italy (see below); referring to the third year, the idea was to work at short communication actions and materials (booklets, witnesses, video letters or others) with an emphasis on the idea to organize a joint campaign in Palestine and Israel and to undertake together a new joint initiative against Occupation; it was less easy to think about how to give continuity to the joint enlarged meeting because of Palestinians’ travelling obstacles; the suggestion was to repeat a seminar similar to the facilitators’ Bologna seminar in an enlarged dimension: Marian Irbash insisted on the need to have “safe spaces” of encounter; the same problem was envisaged for the final event; the Israeli side expressed the same intention about the final event: to give visibility to the meaning and activity of a people to people work;
the reasoning about the future scenarios and projects renewed the trust in the Partnership project and the determination to support the new Palestinian groups started in Jerusalem and Jenin, thanks to Building constituencies for Women’ s alternative Ways for Peace. On the Israeli side Molly Malekar and the young women group expressed the same need.

- a brief informal encounter was held with Zahra Alian, the facilitator responsible for the new Palestinian Group in Jerusalem; she was as friendly and positive towards her group, the Italian side and the project with Israeli women as she was in Bologna; but she also stressed the difficulties of Palestinian women to be present in long unilateral and bilateral meetings;

- in Jenin Gabriella Rossetti, who stayed longer in Palestine, met Eman Abu Hantassh, the facilitator responsible for the new Palestinian Group in Jenin, and part of the group started in that difficult place; Eman was in Bologna one of the most constructive facilitator; at her “home” she stressed the importance of the Bologna seminar to take a new stance in the human relationships and in the project, bus she stressed also the extreme difficulty in being understood and accepted working with Israeli “friends” by her own Palestinian community.

To strengthen Orlando’ s contribution to the work with the Partnership in Israel/Palestine, “Orlando” had other different encounters: the mission group met in Ramallah Zahira Kamal, ex Women’ s Affairs Minister, and Siam Barghouti, both members of the International Women’ s Commission (IWC) for peace in Palestine/Israel, whose members are Israeli, Palestinian and European prominent women.
The Commission, to whom Raffaella Lamberti took briefly part in the past, could be a good reference to match something like a top down approach with the grass root and civil society approach informing Building constituencies for Women’ s alternative Ways for Peace.
In particular, the encounters where about the general situation, the activity of the Commission in the peace processes and about an urgent needed intergenerational exchange. The biggest part of the members in the Commission belongs, indeed, to the women’s generation who started the joint work among European, Israeli, Palestinian women at the end of the Eighties.

For the same goal, the mission group took new contacts with the office in Tel Aviv of The Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum, a network of Palestinian and Israeli NGOs working towards peaceful relations. Panorama, on the Palestinian Side, and Peres Centre, on the Israeli side are dealing with the network. “Orlando” and the Partnership of Building constituencies met the Forum firstly in 2007, in Florence/Montecatini, taking part in the international peace conference the Forum organized in cooperation with the Tuscany Region.

To broaden the background and the social and political networks of the partnership, the mission group encountered also Shashat, the biggest women filmmakers association in the Arab countries, to have support in the communication campaign supposed to take place in the last part of the project. Good relationships where established and sound future cooperation.
The mission group wanted to meet also the Jerusalem Film Library with the same aim. It was difficult to arrange the agenda on that occasion, but a further meeting was scheduled probably at the end of August. What is also interesting is the parallel commitment of the Bologna Film Library to support the “Orlando’s” effort in this field.

Coming to a different political level, the Italian group informally introduced the project also to doctor Kholoud Dbeis, the new young Palestinian Minister for Tourism and Women’s Affairs.

A formal meeting was held with doctor Francesco Forte, Italian Vice Consul, to discuss media and “cultural” campaigns in the third year of the project. Without avoiding the difficulties in having parallel campaigns, he encouraged the Partnership to speak with the director of the Jerusalem Film Library and with the person in charge of Shashat, whom he knows and appreciates very much.

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Communication and Advocacy in Conflict Areas
Seminar and public Event
Bologna from January 30th to February 3rd 2008


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A brief report, Raffaella Lamberti, June 2008

The activity held in Bologna from Wednesday January 30th to Sunday February 3rd called Communication and Advocacy in Conflict Areas was addressed to coordinating bodies of the women’s centres who started the project and to the coordinators of already established operational groups. The action was supported by the Emilia-Romagna Region, in the framework of its peace and human rights programs, and had the following objectives:
a) evaluate what has been done so far and to contribute to third year activities of the European Project Building Constituencies for Women’s alternative Ways for Peace, starting from what had already been achieved or what was on the way of being achieved;
b) hold an exchange and training seminar which took place from Thursday morning January 31st to Sunday morning February 3rd to empower the facilitators working within the Project and coordinating the new groups established thanks to it;
c) illustrate the project’s activities to other associations and NGO’s active in and on the Middle East and Palestine/Israel, to the general public and distinguished guests ( from the public administrations and academic institutions), in a public event, in order to create synergies and robust, lasting relationships among significant actors. The event was organized together with the Emilia-Romagna Region and the Peace School at Monte Sole.

This activity, well rooted in our project, met the needs and requirements of the present situation in Israel and Palestine. It therefore took into account:
1. The general commitment shared by the Jerusalem Link and Associazione Orlando to work together and contribute with a joint effort to bring about a just, comprehensive, and lasting peace between the two peoples of Palestine & Israel. The Project Partnership shares a common vision of peace and assumes Jerusalem Link’s Declaration of Principles.
2. The specific goal of the project, to reinforce the Jerusalem Link’s parallel network of women’s centres, as well as the Jerusalem Women’s Centre, and Bat Shalom, empowering women’s work for peace, keeping open existing, and establishing new channels of communication amongst and between Israelis and Palestinians, and broadening the focus to include other countries as well, starting with Italy.
3. The project situation at the moment the action was held: i.e. the new group of facilitators of both sides of the Jerusalem Link, the parallel and joint groups activated and the ongoing (unilateral, bilateral, trilateral) encounters in order to extend the network and communication activities to improve women’s shared vision regarding mutually acceptable forms of conflict resolution ensuring the dignity, feedom and security of both nations.

In particular, the seminar was held to provide participants with a better understanding of possible bilateral strategies, methods and activities that can be undertaken in order to improve the effectiveness of their work and mutual cooperation.

The participants where:
Ø Mariam Irbash, Zahra Alian, Eman Abu Hantassh, Latifa Sehwai, Palestinians;
Ø Neta Rotem, Keren Assaf, Moran Chen, Revital Yonai, Israelis;
Ø Patrizia Rampioni, Raffaella Lamberti, Gabriella Rossetti, Patrizia Violi, Italians.

Therefore the proposed agenda included since the beginning the meeting of partners and a laboratory/workshop of experts and professionals from different fields involved in the project’s activities.
- The general partnership meeting was aimed to illustrate and evaluate the previously completed activities and spelling out future achievements and activities for the third year.
- the Jerusalem Link suggestions on facilitation criteria and techniques in connection with situations described by participants from JCW and Bat Shalom;
- group communication techniques in conflict situations, with a focus on embodiment;
- group activity on “resilience", i.e. on personal and collective resources and capabilities that can be mobilised in order to confront traumatic situations as in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;
- JL suggestions on the analysis and use of narrative texts and films as a means of political exchange and communication.
- analysis of possible Coordinated Peace Actions in the Occupied Territories and at The Wall, based on experiences of JL and Civil Peace Corps; the interest in this issue was stirred by the success of the recent joint activities in building trust and broadening the project’s constituency.

In the process, the second issue was the one which attracted more interest by the participants. Israeli and Palestinian partners insisted on their need to have a “safe place” and a time fixed to sit and think of their personal involvement, relationships and activities.
The Israeli and Palestinian facilitators feared that the invited guests and experts would not know about the specific Israeli / Palestinian conflict or that there would be “face-to-face lessons”, whereas it was absolutely clear that the Italian proposal envisaged both a) open spaces without any experts and b) seminars-labs where the JL and Orlando partners addressed the various questions.
Therefore, a considerable amount of work and time was spent working on the partners’ request of analysing their emotions, feelings and subjective perspectives in depth and not only the usual issues concerning the conflict negotiations. The Italian partners, in turn, discussed their role as “third party” aimed at creating space and time and a backstage, which might facilitate the coming together of the participants.

The seminar was meant as a process which, starting from the experiences made by individuals and group members, would lead to a new appreciation of personal and group resources, which would be useful for the program, offering communication and facilitation tools and techniques as well as the planning of common and shared political actions and programs. Only a keynote speaker was invited.

According to the advocacy commitment of the project, the stance towards non-violent approach to the conflict and towards the relationship between internal activism and external advocacy, was based on the principle of ‘local ownership’ of the internal participants, with the relative effectiveness of the on-site activities carried out by them. The “third party” facilitation’ s role was played by the Italian partner and it called for support of local non-violent women’ s initiative. An intervention especially required in case where the power and social distance between the disadvantaged national group and the occupiers is too wide to apply to a simple ‘consent theory of power’.

Date Actors Activities
31 1 2008, morning General Partnership (PS) Meeting Introduction and evaluation of prior and completed activities and articulation of what is to be achieved in the seminar in relation to the third year 31 1 2008, afternoon 01 Group activity on Facilitation, Maurizio Stupiggia, Specialisation Course in Group Theory and Techniques, University of Bologna Group communication techniques in conflict situations, with focus on embodiment 2 2008 morning JL Partners The entire Partnership JL Partner separate meeting on mutual relationships and trustWorkshop about suggestions and difficulties in connection with local situations presented by participants from JCW and Bat Shalom.
01 2 2008, afternoon Group activity on Facilitation, Maurizio Stupiggia, Specialisation Course in Group Theory and Techniques, University of Bologna Workshop on communication between people and groups in conflict situations, with focus on facilitation criteria and techniques in connection with situations presented by participants from JCW and Bat Shalom. 02 2 2008, morning Group activity on interpersonal and public communication JL and Ps suggestions on Communication Criteria and Techniques in connection with feelings, arguments, situations presented by participants from JCW and Bat Shalom.
02 2 2008, afternoon The entire Partnership JL Partners Analysis on conflictual emotions, lasting mistrust, aggressive outburst in unbalanced personal and power situations between Israeli and Palestinian women.Face to face meeting to go in depth in the mutual relationship and in the joint activity commitment 02 2 2008 evening The entire PS Party at Patrizia Violi’s home, enjoying Italian food made by the Italian experts.
03 2 2008 Conclusions (PS) Evaluation of seminar; planning of future work. As for the public meeting in the evening of January 31st 2008, organized by the Project’s Partnership, it was planned within the framework of a series of other public meetings organized by Orlando – for example the week before, on January 23rd 2008 – and addressed to other associations and to the general public in order to inform on the situation in Israel/Palestine and on the project’s activities. The discussions usually focus on how to act towards a just and sustainable solution of the conflict able to assure mutual recognition of the right to exist of both parties. A solution which, even without a definitive peace treaty, might lead to the respect of human rights of the Palestinians and to the implementation of Geneva Conventions in the Occupied Territories. It was organized with the support of the Emilia-Romagna Region and the presence of the Women Network (Women of Mediterranean, East and South European Network) and resulted to be an opportunity to give visibility to the work of the Jerusalem Link and of the Partnership inside the project Building Constituencies … also to extend the Italian network of supporters, among those who are already committed to programs in Palestine/ Israel and others. We therefore invited Carla Biavati, of the International Civil Peace Corps who took part in non violent actions in Bi’lin; Elisabetta Donini, one of Turin’s Women in Black, a long time activist in the feminist peace movement involved in programs in the West Bank and Gaza; Federica Zanetti, a young academician of the Bologna University engaged in a program in Gaza with schools’ staff and other friends involved in different actions and programs. We also invited Nadia Baiesi, director of Monte Sole Peace School, who is involved in many programs of peace’s keeping and some Italian NGOs (COSPE, GVC, Terres des Homme in Italy) which deal with programs in Palestine.

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