Haifa meets Frankfurt
Prof. Adital Ben-Ari
A. Goal, rational and project's description
“Frankfurt Meets Haifa” is an experiential academic project that was initiated seven years ago (originally initiated as Haifa meets Berlin). It is conducted in parallel and cooperatively in the University of Haifa and in Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences. The project deals with topics related to diversity and multiculturalism. The narrative approach and the intercultural context present the theoretical framework of the project. The experiential baseline lies in the Jewish-Arab-German encounter. The encounter with the “other” relates to different theoretical terms such as: narrative; dialogue; memory and identity on two levels: the individual, professional and personal identity of every participant and the collective, the public discourse and policy. Along this line, the goal of the project is the development of multicultural awareness and cultural competence based on ongoing encounters with "Others:"be them, Jews, Palestinians, or Germans.
The project consists of an academic course that is a part of the B.A. program in the two universities. The highlights of the course are two encounters of one week each, the first in Frankfurt and the second one in Haifa, consisting of formal and informal parts.
B. Group formation and dynamics
In order to promote a multi-cultural composition of the Israeli group, Jewish students (from different ethnic origin) and Arab students with a variety of identities (Bedouins, Christians, Moslems and Druze) are chosen for the program (after being interviewed). The project was under the supervision of Prof' Adital Ben-Ari, from the School For Social work – Haifa University, and Dr. Elka Quindeau, From the School for Social work of Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences.
The triadic constellation of Jews, Palestinians, and Germans promotes a rich dialogue and manifold experiences for the participating students. The German students were given opportunities to relate to their difficult past, to see how, even today, the trauma of the Holocaust accompanies and fuels the Jewish-Arab conflict and to understand the complexity of the conflict and to examine topics such as immigration policies, or the attitude towards strangers and anti-Semitism in Germany today. For the Arab students, the opportunity aroused to become familiar with the history of the “other”, the Jews, and, in particular, with the trauma of the Holocaust and the Zionist narratives that underlie the establishment of the State of Israel. For the Jewish students, it enabled the experience of "minority" within a Jewish--Arab group, to familiarize themselves with the Nakba, the narrative that exists on the other side of the Jewish-Arab conflict, and also to meet the “other”, in their pain.
One of the Palestinian female student said at the final reflection of the project:
To get to know Christians, Jews, someone from the Islamic movement, someone who is gay, this project taught me what it means to be the “other,” to accept the other. I look at people differently today….