Strategic Thinking and Analysis Teams (STAT)
The goal of the ‘Strategic Thinking and Analysis Team’ meetings was to facilitate Track II Diplomacy by creating an environment encouraging participants to generate pragmatic solutions to the conflict’s political realities. Second, meetings allowed experts to debate existing research and ideas and then brainstorm new and innovative suggestions to advance the peace process.
In September 2013, IPCRI and Byspokes introduced water-efficient food production systems in two communities identified as being disproportionately impacted by the conflict - a Bedouin village in Israel's Negev and a refugee camp in the West Bank.
"Growing Together" was an 8-month pilot program that educated average citizens about aquaponics and hydroponics systems and how to build and capitalize on these systems. This knowledge, we hoped, would increase the capacity of host communities to produce organic vegetables, fruit, and fish, resulting in nutritious food while also conserving water and land. The pilot program included trainings, aquaponic system installation, outreach events, local internships, and more.
An Israeli on experiencing Palestine:
Most of the people are Israeli, listening to a Palestinian tour guide. I don't think all of them completely changed their views after that day, but at least they were there. At least they have a better understanding of what it's like to be a Palestinian. Don't get me wrong - I'm not delusional and I'm fully aware that there are people in Bethlehem that would want to kill me for being Israeli. But they're an extreme minority - we have those as well. The day they'll stop determining our policy and diplomacy, we might actually be able to live here freely.
A few years after meeting during an IPCRI seminar, a group of Palestinians and Israelis initiated an ongoing tour program in IPCRI to address the divides resulting from restricted mobility in Israel/Palestine, especially in the aftermath of the separation barrier construction and the ensuing hostile environment. We coordinated with the IDF and PA to allow legal entry of Palestinians into Israel and vice versa, and a professional peace-building tour guide led the groups in a tour that explored the mundane lives of the respective communities. The diversified tours included immersion into local culture and food, visiting historical sites, community projects and necessary political discussions. By providing this experience, we aim to break the psychological, political and geographical barriers, humanizing the "other" and advancing towards peaceful resolutions.
In the shared environment of Israel and the Palestinian Territories, impacts of environmental issues and climate change know no borders. In a region that has a quickly growing population, rapid development, limited water resources, and a vulnerable environment, joint cooperation is essential. The Israel/Palestine Joint Environmental Forum was established by IPCRI and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in November 2012 to address this need.
The Forum's goal was to serve as an informal physical and virtual meeting place of leading professionals from civil society (academics and NGO representatives) where ideas, campaigns, concerns, and issues could be raised, discussed, and then acted upon. The Forum met on a quarterly basis, bringing together key leaders in environmental work in both Israeli and Palestinian society.
This USAID-funded project worked in mixed Jewish and Arab/Palestinian cities and areas in Israel. These mixed but segregated areas face many challenges for the Jewish majority and the Arab/Palestinian minority. By bringing together young people from both communities, this project created a youth-led partnership for change. The participants went through a process in which they reflected on their identity and position within their city, learned to understand the experiences and circumstances of "the other," and engaged in hands-on community development work to improve the communities in which they lived. This project hoped to achieve mutual recognition and joint social action that promoted a sense of shared citizenship, justice, and equality. By approaching the improvement of the city as a shared project, a shared responsibility, the participating youth could counter the trends of segregation and alienation.
In early 2013, IPCRI embarked on an exciting project focused on developing the agricultural export market in the Palestinian region of Bardalah and Kardalah. Working with a team of agricultural specialists led by Dr. Hillel Adiri, local farmer members of the Bardalah Farmers Cooperative were provided with the resources, technical expertise, and business training to effectively grow and market two high-demand export crops: chili peppers and a variety of herbs.
Past local barriers to overseas export included a lack of post-harvest technical expertise (storage, grading, and packaging), a lack of certification resources, and a lack of marketing know-how. This project waimed to provide Bardalah farmers with the training needed to overcome such barriers and tap into valuable export markets.