The signs in the Middle East conflict are pointing to storms ahead rather than to a period of relaxation. Despite this, history teachers from Israel and the Occupied Territories have embarked on a joint programme to improve cooperation in everyday life. "Mission Possible" is the name of the training and encounter programme, which lasts several months and is organised by the "Center for Educational Technology (CET)" in Tel Aviv.
It was launched in 2018 as part of the CET's Shared Education Initiative. Based on the need of all pedagogues for professionally demanding further education, the CET deliberately brings together principals and teachers from the various groups of Israeli society for joint further education programmes.
"What is special about our offer is its holistic approach. We want to develop professional competencies as well as offer a basis for a trustful cooperation and a space for personal experiences and exchange across existing divides," said Dr. Shamir Yeger, one of the project managers at CET, founder of the Israeli History Competition and member of the EUSTORY Steering Committee. The history teachers involved work either at Israeli Jewish schools, at schools for Arab Israelis or at schools in the Palestinian autonomous territories. Within the framework of the programme, encounters are made possible and heterogeneous working groups are created, which are still neither self-evident in the region nor easy to moderate. The schools include both institutions for the special promotion of gifted students and schools whose catchment area consists mainly of Palestinian refugee camps.
From 29 June to 4 July 2019, "Mission Possible" held a workshop at Körber-Stiftung in Hamburg. Körber-Stiftung financed the Hamburg seminar as part of a cooperation, planned its content together with the organisers, and invited speakers from its EUSTORY and history competition networks: Teachers and experts from the Western Balkans, from cross-border pedagogical youth work as well as from schools in Hamburg. They presented their own experiences in dealing with heterogeneity, contradictory and conflicting interpretations of the past, and ethnically, religiously or culturally based tensions and discussed them with the guests. “To think that teachers in other places succeeded in projects such as we are trying encourages me to experience the new challenges of joint teaching,” one participant summarised these encounters at the end of the workshop.
"We hope to get a lot of new ideas from this cooperation for our cross-border work in the European history network EUSTORY", said Katja Fausser who developed the workshop on behalf of Körber-Stiftung. "What the Israeli and Arab colleagues have achieved proves that there is more leeway than we sometimes assume to make our societies better."
And so, at the end of the workshop in Hamburg, one of the answers to the question of what the participants would take home with them as the strongest impression was certainly not a banal one: TO BE TOGETHER.