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Teaching Arabs, Jews together - teaching peace

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By Kelly LeVan

The Galilee school is so close to the explosions that the walls shake. But Hand in Hand’s students – half Jewish and half Arabic – keep going to class because they and their parents believe in the message the school teaches, mainly that Jews and Arabs can and already do live together in peace.

Lee Gordon, who co-founded Hand in Hand with Amin Khalaf, will speak twice in the coming week – once at 7 p.m. Friday at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church and again at 4:30 p.m. the following day at a peace gathering at Ashley Pond organized by students at Los Alamos High School.

Although it started small, Hand in Hand now has more than 800 students and operates four schools, including one in Jerusalem, despite strong racial tensions throughout Israel. Each school is run by an Arab and a Jewish principal, and class is taught by an Arab and a Jewish teacher. Students attending Hand in Hand, from age 3 through their teens, learn in both Hebrew and Arabic.

In an interview with the Monitor, Gordon said teachers encourage students to explore their own and each other’s cultural heritage – the idea is not to pretend Arabs and Jews are the same, but rather to learn they can be different and still compatible.


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