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The Role of Wasatia to Promote Education in the Palestinian Culture

1.       Historical/Political Context/ Educational objectives

The persistent Israeli occupation and the failure of the Camp David Summit meeting of 2000 resulted in the Second Palestinian intifada spurring trends of political radicalism and religious extremism within the Palestinian society. The Wasatia movement was created in January 2007 as non-governmental, non-profit, non-political initiative to change this trend. Its declared goals are: (a) To bring a deeper and more rational understanding of Islam to Moslems as well as to non-Moslems; (b) To clarify the distortions to which Islam has been subjected at home and in the West; (c) To educate Palestinians on taboo topics such as the Holocaust taking a new humanistic approach; (d) To seek answers for the deep religious, political, social, and economic crises inflicting the Palestinian society; (e) To strive and work for ending the Israeli military occupation through negotiations and peaceful means; (f) To spread and promote Islamic tolerant concepts, values and principles within the Palestinian community; (g) To encourage the practice of moderation among Palestinians in order to mitigate religious radicalism and bigotry and reduce political extremism; (h) To bring a message of peace, moderation, justice, coexistence, tolerance, and reconciliation to Palestinian community through vocal civic leaders;(i) To teach creative and critical thinking and open-mindedness; and (j) to empower the potential for leadership in their society.The goal in interfaith dialogue and education is to deconstruct religious mythologies and Quranic distortions and misinterpretations and to promote knowledge of the religion of other;

1.       Actors-lecturers, facilitators, writers, professors, school teachers, religious leaders, youth, young adults ,guest lecturers, lecturers by the professional staff, tour guides

2.       Activities—Dialogues, Workshops, public lectures, publications.

The main activities of the Wasatia focus on delivering seminars, lectures, and training workshops to advance the education of justice, balance, voluntarism, and religious moderation as core values in Palestinian society; seminars and workshops aim to deepen knowledge of the key factors and principles in Palestinian society that have created the context for religious pluralism; seminars and interfaith dialogue aim to expand understanding of different religious traditions in Palestine, and to foster appreciation for the strengths and complexities of a religiously pluralist society; publications aim to identify and guide learning of the principles, values, and practices of interfaith dialogue. Wasatia publishes books, articles in booklet format on moderation, conflict resolution, peace, and reconciliation topics and distributes them freely to the public.

2.       Methods—facilitated dialogues, outreach to the press, use of social media and networks—facebook an internet, powerpoint presentations, lectures, films and discussion, use of the local languages, television interviews, study tours

To disseminate its educational message, Wasatia uses interfaith dialogues meetings, outreach to the press, and social media—has more than one group on Facebook, an internet website, powerpoint presentations to high school students and in workshops, lectures and discussion, television interviews, and study tours – Wasatia was the first to organize a tour of the Nazi concentration camps in Auschwitz between March 25-30, 2014, for Palestinian students.

Wasatia advocates achieving peace and prosperity through the promotion of the democratic multi-culture of dialogue that would lead to walking away from the current climate of religious and political radicalism and extremism that is escalating fear, enmity, and insecurity. It claims the centrist position, that balance between passion and hate, between amity and enmity, between deep despair and false hope, which would lead us out of the present state of conflict and despair.

Wasatia addresses all aspects of life: the way you eat, the way you dress, the way you spend money. Moderation is a value shared with the various thinkers as well as all faiths and therefore could become a fruitful foundation for interfaith dialogue.

Wasatia is the first Islamic Palestinian group calling for a negotiated peace with Israel that would help to bring peaceful solutions to the acute religious, economic, social and political crises plaguing Palestinian society. It advocates the establishment of an independent, tolerant, democratic, secular, non-militarized Palestinian state that fosters economic prosperity, religious freedom, and social justice and would adopt liberal values of equity, tolerance, pluralism, freedom of expression, rule of law, and respect for civil and human rights. All these are values advocated in Islamic holy texts and traditions. 

Wasatia will eventually give birth to a political vision that would stand on the foundation pillars such as peace, state-building, governance reform, education, women’s empowerment, religious and political moderation, and civil society development.