Building Bridges

On Friday, a group of “Ambassadors of Change” from Sakhnin College, in cooperation with DSPR ICC, visited the Central Office in Jerusalem. The trip to Jerusalem and Bethlehem was focused on "thinking outside the box" and took awareness of how to see the other through different eyes and building bridges with those who are different. It is part of the DSPR ICCI activities that promote, among other things, interfaith and intercultural exchange.

Under the guidance of Sami Khoury, the program manager of DSPR, the teachers from Sakhnin College met with other groups from diverse backgrounds. Among other things, they met with representatives of the African community in Jerusalem and learned how they are integrated into Palestinian society. The ancestors primarily came from the countries Chad, Senegal, Nigeria and Sudan, and came to pilgrimage to Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The women also visited the Domari Community of gypsies in Jerusalem and learned about their challenges and their lives as a minority within the Israeli and Palestinian society. A nomadic people who split into two groups, one, the Roma, who settled in Europe, and the other who migrated to the Middle East and were called Dom. Locally, there are some 12,000 Dom Gypsies in the Gaza Strip, about 3,000 in the West Bank and a few thousand in Jordan. It’s a small community that once lived in tents, in abject poverty, and was resettled inside the Old City during the British Mandate period. Although they have lived here in this area for 500 years, very little is known about them. They are at the bottom of Israel’s social and economic ladder. Like all Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, the Dom Gypsies are residents but not Israeli citizens.

The story shows us that Israeli and Palestinian society is far more diverse than many people realize at first glance. As DSPR ICCI, our concern is to protect minorities and their cultural heritage and to strengthen exchanges between them, to restore hope for a better future and to enable everyone to live in dignity.

Because we want to learn to see the other through other eyes. For the “Ambassadors of Change”, it was new exchanges and a look beyond their own horizons at new cultures and minorities in their own country, with whom they have much in common.

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