Jews and Arabs in Israel Unite by Working Together within the Disability Community
We live in a diverse and interconnected world that challenges us to learn how to live together in peace. “Coexistence” is a popular buzzword these days, but it’s easy to lose sight of what true coexistence entails. Living in harmony with others who are different from ourselves is a lofty ideal. To truly live together in harmony, we must be willing to bring “others” – differences and all – into our inner circles. Through my work as an educator, I’ve had the privilege of watching my students rise to this challenge in ways that are often surprising.
I teach an experiential education program on disability inclusion at Ono Academic College in Jerusalem. While it would be worthwhile to develop an entire curriculum focused solely on disability inclusion, my program goes one step further: it unites young Jewish and Arab students. In fact, one could say that my program harnesses the power of disability inclusion to bridge the gaps between Jews and Arabs, whose cultures commonly clash, and to diffuse environments that are often politically tense.
When I began my career as a psychologist, I researched youth with special needs and how they learn and interact differently from the general population. At Ono, I leveraged that research to create a hands-on program in disability studies. My program quickly became popular with young Arab and Jewish students who were looking for a meaningful way to enact social change within the complex milieu of Israeli society. [continue reading…]