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Organization: Interfaith Encounter Association
The following information may be cited or quoted as long as the source is accurately mentioned and the words are not taken out of context.
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Postal address of organization/institution

12/34 HaArazim Street
P.O. Box 3814
91037 Jerusalem

E-mail address of organization/institution


Website address of organization/institution


Telephone of organization/institution


PRIORITIES: All of the organization's domains of culture of peace activity


TOP PRIORITY: The organization's most important culture of peace activity


PARTNERSHIPS AND NETWORKS: What partnerships and networks does your organization participate in, thus strengthening the global movement for a culture of peace?

Regionally the IEA is part of the ALLiance for Middle East Peace and the Israeli-Palestinian Peace NGOs Forum.
Internetionally the IEA is a Member Group of the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF), a Member Group of Roots and Shoots of the Jane Goodall Institute and an Affiliate Member of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations. The Jerusalem programs of the IEA function as part of the Partner Cities Network of the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions (CPWR) and the Goldin Institute. The IEA is a member in the Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN and a founding member of the Partnership Committee for the United Nations Decade of Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace.

ACTIONS: What activities have been undertaken by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the ten years of the Decade? If you already made a report in 2005, your information from 2005 will be included in the 2010 report.

Philosophy & Methodology

In the microcosms of the IEA's ongoing dialogue groups, seminars, and study sessions, fear gives way to familiarity, ignorance to understanding, exclusion to inclusion, discrimination to tolerance and respect, and strife to harmony.  The goal is not to blend all traditions into one undifferentiated group but to provide a table where all can come and sit in safety and ease, while being fully who they are in their respective religions.  In this way the IEA aims to change the dynamics of a society crystallized in a culture of war into a society embedded in a culture of humanized engagement.  Thus the IEA views interfaith dialogue not as a goal in of itself but as a tool through which society can be re-crystallized into a culture of peace and harmony.  By engaging ordinary people – not just their religious, spiritual, or political leaders – the IEA is creating extraordinary transformations in the way grassroots people perceive and encounter the Other – the seeds of a new crystallization capable of transforming society as a whole.  The IEA believes that peace is a stool that stands on three legs: human, economic, and political.  The IEA is helping to create, encounter by encounter, the human component to that peace – the component so sorely missed in previous peace-initiatives.

The IEA accomplishes its work through its unique programmatic method.  The IEA operates within three concentric circles of interfaith work, each with the power to grow and impact the circle encapsulating it.  In the first and most preeminent circle – the Inner-Israeli circle – the IEA focuses on the promotion of respectful relations between Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, and Baha'is living in Israel.  This process in turn impacts and enables the second circle – the Israeli-Palestinian circle – where the IEA works in cooperation with 8 Palestinian organizations across the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).  The work of the first and second circles aids the work of the third circle – the Middle East region – where the IEA has been a major founder in establishing the Middle East Abrahamic Forum, along with similar organizations from Egypt, Iran, Jordan, the PNA, Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey.

Additionally, the IEA maintains three interconnected programmatic sections.   The general program is accessible to all segments of society, regardless of age or sex.  Owing to the nature of many cultural religious practices in the Middle East, women are often times left out of the circle of interfaith dialogue initiatives.  Issues of modesty for men and women in the four faith-traditions (Judaism, Islam, Christianity, & Druze) as well as the disparity between male and female representation in each tradition's higher clergy surround such interfaith encounters.  These issues present themselves as obstacles that particularly affect female participation, resulting in the further marginalization of women from such initiatives.  Consequently, it is especially important that women have their own space to come together across religious traditions and engage in interfaith peace-building work equally.  The Women's Interfaith Encounter (WIE) was launched in the winter of 2001 to address this need and to rectify this potential pitfall in grassroots inter-religious work.  For the women in the WIE, interfaith study also serves as a source of strength and empowerment to recognize the values and challenges they share with women outside their particular tradition.

The third programmatic section, the Youth Interfaith Encounter (YIE), designs and implements programs specifically for young adults.  Similar to the challenges facing women are those facing youth.  Young people's lack of religious or social authority often results in their marginalization in religious and inter-religious circles.  Moreover, the dynamics of new and creative thinking that typify young people's approach to the issues are especially vital to grassroots interfaith work.  In order for such a movement to truly grow and spread out of the individual encounters into society at large, it is imperative that today's youth be given the space and the opportunity to develop themselves, foster their visions for the future, and enable themselves to achieve it.  The IEA responded to this imperative through the YIE in the spring of 2002.

Lastly, the IEA employs three different program formats through which it facilitates its interfaith encounters: inter-religious study sessions, multi-day conferences, and desert seminars.  In bringing Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, and Baha'is together to study topics of relevance from their own religious perspectives, interfaith study is used to achieve two main goals.  Primarily, it serves as a vehicle towards understanding, acceptance, and respect for the Other, but it also serves as a way to deepen awareness of one's own religion.

Program Chart

Circles of Interfaith Work Programmatic Sections Program Formats

The General Program
Inter-religious Study Sessions

Women's Interfaith Encounter (WIE)
Multi-Day Conferences

Middle East Region
Youth Interfaith Encounter (YIE)
Desert Seminars

Summary of activities in the second half of the Decade


During the year 2005, we successfully organized more than 110 programs that included nearly 3,000 participants. We established and maintained five new ongoing groups across Israel with some 200 members of all ages — these groups were also novel in focus and participation:

• Responding to the violent clashes between Christians and Druze in the Galilee village of M'ghar, we established two groups in cooperation with the local community center. Both groups are unique in composition, and include Druze, Christians and Muslims.
• In Jerusalem, we started a group focused on low-income neighborhoods in the eastern and western parts of the city.
• We also started a student group in Jerusalem at the Mount Scopus campus that focuses on environmental issues.
• And finally, we started a group that convenes in Arabic and focuses on educational and linguistic issues.

In addition to these ongoing groups, we managed to organize three Israeli-Palestinian interfaith programs with some 150 participants, a Middle Eastern conference in Amman, and a series of Friends of IEA encounters.


During the year 2006, we successfully organized 120 programs that included more than 3,000 participants, from all social sectors. We established and maintained two new ongoing groups in Tel Aviv-Jaffa and in Carmel City.  We also started the process for the creation of five additional groups that were launched in 2007. By the end of 2006 we had 17 on-going groups across the country, most of them maintaining regular activities that contribute to building real and sustainable coexistence.
In addition to these ongoing groups, we managed to organize two Israeli-Palestinian interfaith encounter retreats, a special weekend retreat with home hospitality for members of all our groups, two special retreats of meeting and training for coordinators and a series of “Friends of IEA” encounters.
A very special moment was when the IEA and its director were awarded the "Prize for Humanity" by the Immortal Chaplains Foundation, after being nominated by Dr. Jane Goodall.


During 2007, we successfully organized 130 programs that included more than 3,500 participants, from all social sectors. We established and maintained the following new ongoing groups (from north to south): Acre, Lana women's group in M'ghar, Bridging group in M'ghar, Haifa University, Wadi Ara, Healthcare Professionals at Hadassah Ein Karem, Jewish-Christian group for joint study of the Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew, Mothers and Daughters, and our first Israeli-Palestinian group of young adults from Jerusalem and Hebron.  We also started the process for the creation or renewal of additional groups that have been launched in 2008. By the end of 2007 we had 26 on-going groups across the country, most of them maintaining regular activities that contribute to building real and sustainable coexistence.
In addition to these ongoing groups, we also managed to organize four Israeli-Palestinian interfaith encounter retreats, two special retreats that included meeting and training for coordinators, and a series of “Meeting the Religious Communities of Jerusalem” encounters.
Two very special moments were when the IEA was awarded the "2007 INTRA Award for Complementarity of Religions" by Institute of Interreligious Studies in Germany, and when two of its coordinators won the Women’s Peace Initiative Award of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding in the United States.


2008 was another year of growth for IEA.  This year we added two new groups to our roster while developing innovative models for cultural encounters. We re-launched three of our Youth Interfaith Encounter (YIE) groups that halted their activity in previous years.
During this past year, we successfully organized 150 programs that included more than 4,000 participants that came from all walks of life. We established and maintained the only group that regularly brings together settlers from Maaleh Adumim and Palestinians from Abu Dis. The Haifa Women's Interfaith Encounter – who have followed our inspiration but acted independently for three years – joined IEA as its twenty-eighth group. We also had a pilot series called "Encounter with the Religions of Jerusalem", which concluded successfully.  We are now exploring the possibility to replicate this program on a larger scale in cooperation with the City of Jerusalem. Altogether, we had 28 groups across the country, most of them maintaining regular activities that contribute to real and sustainable coexistence.
In addition to these ongoing groups, we also managed to organize two Israeli-Palestinian interfaith encounter retreats, a special training retreat for our coordinators and a gathering of all the Jerusalem groups for an Iftar dinner of Ramadan, also marking the International Day of Peace. Lastly, we joined the Al-Qasemi Academy as co-organizers for the Third Conference of the "Culture of Dialogue".


Annual report for 2009 was not produced yet but it is already clear that IEA continued to grow during this year. Special attention should be given to the growth in Israeli-Palestinian activities with some five weekend retreats and two new ongoing groups, including a second unique group of settlers and Palestinians.

Neme and Yehuda

PROGRESS: Has your organization seen progress toward a culture of peace and nonviolence in your domain of action and in your constituency during the second half of the Decade?

Definately yes. During the second half of the Deacade our activity grew by 50% in terms of number of encounters and by 100% in terms of number of ongoing groups. This means that we have much more activity with many more people. But more than that it means that much more of the activity is now in the framework of ongoing building of long-term inter-communal relations, which has a larger impact on the society as a whole.

OBSTACLES: Has your organization faced any obstacles to implementing the culture of peace and nonviolence? If so, what were they?

The main obstacle was the challenge to raise the funds needed to sustain and develop our work.
Another obstacle were eruptions of violence related to the Middle East conflict, especially the war in Gaza in the beginning of 2009, as well as negative attituted resulting from the ongoing conflict. It is important to stress, though, that we see that the impact of eruptions of violence is very limited in time and that negative attitudes are effectively overcomeable through the Interfaith Encounter Approach.

PLANS: What new engagements are planned by your organization in the short, medium and long term to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence?

In the inner-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian contexts we plan to continue and further develop and implement our strategy of retreats that support ongoing groups of inter-communal interfaith encounter. We plan to form and sustain more and more groups with the ultimate goal that every citizen wil have a group that is both close to his/home and heart.
In teh regional context we plan to further develop the Middle East Abrahamic Forum and further extend it to the Euro-Medetirranean Abrahamic Forum.

GLOBAL MOVEMENT: How do you think the culture of peace and nonviolence could be strengthened and supported at the world level??

The main way in my eyes is by bringing together in synergy organizations that are doing significant national and regional work in teh field.
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Organization: Interfaith Encounter Association

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