Resolution Adopted by the CCAR

INTERNS FOR PEACE

Adopted by the 114th Annual Convention
of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
Omni Shoreham, Washington D.C.
March, 2003

Background

Since its inception in 1976 at the CCAR San Francisco convention, Interns for Peace has established a solid record of achievement for its programs in Israel and Palestinian Gaza. Under the leadership and vision of Rabbi Bruce Cohen, Interns for Peace focused on an action- oriented, community-based, non-political approach to building relationships and resolving conflicts between Israel's Jews and Arabs. Unlike the many organizations or governmental agencies that work primarily or exclusively on the level of leadership, IFP focuses its programs on the firm belief that peace can only be achieved when based upon a foundation of local community transformation, especially among the younger generations. As Rabbi Cohen has stated, "Peace accords cannot work unless local communities have a women's center and youth center in places like West Bank and Gaza, with at least one indigenous person trained as a professional community peace worker. "

Interns For Peace has created two autonomous tracks in Israel and Palestinian Gaza. In Gaza, IFP has become well respected as a legitimate NGO [non- governmental organization]. In July, 1998, the Palestinian National Authority officially recognized IFP NGO status. The PNA National Youth Guidance Committee has also approved IFP to train its staff for youth leadership training workshops in the schools.

Interns For Peace has created a growing cadre of IFP graduate interns who are now professionals in the field of Arab-Jewish and intra-group relations, such as Traditional / non- Traditional, Urban/ Rural, Eastern / Western, Native born / Immigrant. IFP has trained 250 interns to be culturally respectful in uniting 250,000 of their neighbors in a broad range of cooperative activities to build mutual understanding.

Relying primarily on interns recruited from economically disadvantaged communities, IFP provides the opportunity and social access necessary for training as entry-level staff for indigenous Non-Governmental Organizations. Areas of interest: education, democracy, sports, the arts, industry, and community development.

IFP also trains interns on how to initiate Youth Reconstruction Corps and Women Tents for Human Rights. The program trains women in business skills to establish women empowerment business center; trains Palestinian youth mentors in non-violent passive resistance.

Interns for Peace is now expanding its program, working in southeast Europe to create a Youth Corps to train ethnic community workers to empower the poor through income generating ecology projects, with the World Bank and the Trust for Mutual Understanding. IFP is also developing a Sierra Leone Youth Corps, "To build and Be Rebuilt" for demobilized soldiers to reclaim agricultural lands, and for personal rehabilitation. Other youth corps programs are being planned for Afghanistan

In light of the unique role Interns for Peace now plays in working towards mutual understanding and peace,

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Central Conference of American Rabbis congratulates Interns for Peace and its International Co-Directors, Rabbi Bruce Cohen and Karen Wald, Farhat Agbariya, IFP Israel Training Manager, Hisham Kullab, IFP Palestinian Training Manager, and IFP Southeast Europe Manager, Dr. Sulejman Redzec, on its 27th anniversary, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, in light of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the CCAR recognizes the unique role that Interns for Peace training can now make in conflict prevention and post-conflict resolution throughout the developing and developed world, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR endorse the plan of IFP to work with the Israeli Ministry of Education to create materials such as "Rabbi Albert Manilla Lewis Saving Life Educator and Coexistence Activist Training to Teach Tolerance in a Time of Terror, to utilize traditional religious texts to support inter and intra faith and ethnic understanding and coexistence, to foster Israeli Jewish social cohesion, especially the Orthodox and non-Orthodox as well as Native Born and Ethiopian Jews, and to establish PTAs with Israeli Arab parents to improve the standard of Israeli Arab education", and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, to encourage organizers of congregational tours to Israel to use the resources of IFP in Israel as part of their program, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR commends Congress for language in the Foreign Operations Conference Explanatory Statement for fiscal 2003, where "the managers reiterate strong support for important conflict resolution programs in the Middle East, including Interns for Peace" (as one of 5 named organizations,) "and expect the allocation of up to $5,000,000 for these and other similar programs." Building upon this success of Congressional leadership in 2003, the CCAR encourages language for a Congressional Directive of $1 million, a year, for Interns For Peace, in fiscal 2004, to establish indigenous training committees in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe that train local deliverers of aid and educators as community workers to mentor and empower youth to turn away from terror and towards tolerance and peace, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR endorse efforts by Interns For Peace in North America for ecumenical consortiums to create community- based training Internships to foster interfaith understanding, by uniting youth from all faiths in cooperative community action that empowers youth to transcend the trauma of 9/11.