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Palestinian-Jewish Living Room Dialogues (Featured D&D Story)

Today we’d like to feature another great example of dialogue and deliberation in action, the Palestinian-Jewish Living Room Dialogue project. This mini case study was submitted by Libby and Len Traubman via NCDD’s new Dialogue Storytelling Tool, which we recently launched to collect stories from our members about their work.

We know that there are plenty of other stories from our NCDD members out there that can teach key insights about working in dialogue, deliberation, and engagement. We want to hear them! Please add YOUR dialogue story today, and let us learn from you!

Title of Project: D&D stories logo Face-to-Face Palestinian-Jewish Living Room Dialogue: crossing oceans to help others engage

Since 1992 and during 254 meetings, our local handful of women and men — Muslims, Jews, and Christians — continue learning to listen and learn from one another while initiating hundreds of outreach activities across the nation and overseas to help other “adversaries” to successfully communicate and experience that “an enemy is one whose story we have not heard.”

Initial incentive came from coexistence models of the 1980s in the Middle East and Africa. Neve Shalom ~ Wahat as-Salam (Oasis of Peace) is a village where Jewish and Palestinian Israeli families live and learn together. Koinonia, Southern Africa, founded by Reverend Nico Smith during apartheid years, gathered thousands of brave Blacks and White to share meals and stories, sometimes in public at risk to their lives. Both initiatives were honored together during the San Francisco 1989 Beyond War Award Ceremony. The word Koinonia means “belonging together” or “communion by intimate participation”.

From 2003-2007, the Dialogue group partnered with Camp Tawonga over five years to bring hundreds of adults and youth from 50 different towns in Palestine and Israel to successfully live and communicate together at the Palestinian-Jewish Family Peacemakers Camp — Oseh Shalom – Sanea al-Salam.

Since 2007, six how-to documentary films have been created. The most useful has been the 2012 Dialogue in Nigeria: Muslims & Christians Creating Their Future. The films all stream freely online, and over 13,000 DVDs have been requested from from all continents and every U.S. state including citizens from 2,594 institutions, 2,601 cities, in 82 nations.

Which dialogue and deliberation approaches did you use or borrow heavily from?

  • Sustained Dialogue
  • Compassionate Listening
  • Bohm Dialogue

What was your role in the project?
We co-founded and hosted the first 1992 gatherings in our home. With monthly 2-1/2 hour meetings now rotating among different participants’ homes, we continue to shepherd both the original San Mateo group (254 meetings) and the San Francisco gatherings (172 meetings).

What issues did the project primarily address?

  • Interfaith conflict
  • Race and racism
  • Education
  • Human rights

Lessons Learned

  1. Time, Dedication, and Patience are required for successful Sustained Dialogue, trust, learning to listen, relationship-healing, and collective cooperation and creativity.
  2. Beginning a Dialogue — finding participants and convening the first meeting — requires inordinate totality, time, and persistence.
  3. Sustaining an ongoing group also requires a person or core team with a vision and “religious” dedication to the people.

Where to learn more about the project:

FILM — 20 Years of Palestinian-Jewish Living Room Dialogue (1992-2012):

Several hundred outreach activities:

Six of the Dialogue’s how-to documentary films:

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Roshan Bliss
An inclusiveness trainer and group process facilitator, Roshan Bliss serves as NCDD's Youth Engagement Coordinator and Blog Curator. Combining his belief that decisions are better when everyone is involved with his passion for empowering young people, his work focuses on increasing the involvement of youth and students in public conversations.

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