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explore: Oasis of Peace
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explore: Oasis of Peace
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Problems arise when people simply do not understand one another. At the community school in Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam—named in both Hebrew and Arabic—children learn both languages at a very young age, thus cultivating a spirit of communication and mutual understanding. The village is a true rarity, as Jews and Palestinian Arabs live together in cooperation and respect.

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Segment 1

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explore.org
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explore went on a philanthropic fact-finding mission to Israel and found an oasis where language is a bridge between Arabs and Jews.
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Oasis of Peace
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Neve Shalom/Wahat Al-Salam Guest House
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN [Founder, explore]
What a great opportunity to be here at this school, where the whole concept is to bring people together in the name of peace. The Arab, the Jew, together as children, where they can work alongside one another, and create the roots for a future. So it'll be interesting -- be interesting to see if the school works. I began my tour with Ety Edlund, a teacher and co-founder of the school of Neve Shalom. She explained the importance of communication and dialogue between cultures. What are they doing right now, anyways? Is this like ... ?
ETY EDLUND [teacher and co-founder, Neve Shalom school]
They are a group learning more to communicate, to understand.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
So, is this ... ?
ETY EDLUND
This is Arabic.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
This is Arabic.
ETY EDLUND
They learn, the first grade learns how to read and write. So they learn both Hebrew and Arabic.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
Okay. So the Hebrew and the Arabic, and then they learn both.
ETY EDLUND
Yes, they learn both. They learn the two languages from the beginning.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
That's interesting, that's great. That makes so much sense. So simple, you know? Because it helps build bridges, people just communicate. It's so important, the fundamental building blocks of dialogue to create relationship and understanding.
ETY EDLUND
I think that behind language, you have mentality, you have culture, you have tradition. These are the important issues, because if you get to learn the other side, you get to learn and to be less suspecting, less with prejudice, less ... more receptible of things. Because when you are in a Jewish school or in an Arab school, they learn only the side of the Jewish or the side of the Arab. They don't learn about the other side.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
So what is the side of the Jewish? If you're at a Jewish school, what is the side? What would they teach you?
ETY EDLUND
"I'm Jewish, I have the right to live here, this is my promised land." But in my school, in my teachings, when I am teaching about Abraham, that he received a promise from God to have this place, I ask the children, "Who are Abraham's children?" And he has two, Isaac and Ishmael.
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Ishmael and Isaac are half brothers.
ETY EDLUND
The Arabs think that it is a promised land for them also. I don't tell them, "No, think Isaac, he is the important," or, "Think Ishmael is the important." I just expose questions.
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Ishmael was conceived by Hagar, and Isaac by Sarah.
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Ishmael and Isaac would both become the fathers of great nations.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
I had the opportunity to see the outcome of this remarkable program when I met a graduate, Noam Shuster, a living testament to the transformative power of learning and understanding. So, do you feel like the school is really helping build bridges, that people are learning to understand how they're all the same at the end of the day?
NOAM SHUSTER [Neve Shalom graduate]
Yeah, you know, the first thing is it is equal and it's bilingual and I think a language is a bridge. There isn't one dominant language; everything is equal. When I opened my notebook in the primary school, I wrote the date in Hebrew and in Arabic, and it was the most natural thing.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
I was raised in a generation where languages weren't really emphasized. But, as you travel, it's such a big issue just in California, you know, being bilingual, at least speaking Spanish. And a lot of people are like, "No, no, no, you must speak English," and that issue is going to be so prevalent in America's future, the ability to communicate. Because that's how you understand one another, it's opening the gates. The fact that they're emphasizing the bilingual, suddenly by being able to talk, you're like, "Hey, we're the same." It's so simple.
NOAM SHUSTER
Yeah, and Neve Shalom is a very good example of it.
WEINGARTEN VOICEOVER
We ended our day at this oasis of peace, speaking the universal language of football.
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explore.org: never stop learning
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With the support of the Annenberg Foundation, explore has made funding possible to: Neve Shalom - Wahat al-Salam. To learn more: www.nwas.org
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[end credits]