Thursday, 2. March 2006
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To be neither victims nor actors: Youth from Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Hungary and Austria explore ways and obstacles to coexistence and mutual understanding
A Hadassah Austria Project sponsored by the European Union, the Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Culture and the Karl Kahane Foundation

Idea and Concept: Evelyn Böhmer-Laufer

A peacecamp will take place in Franzen, Austria, at which youth from Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Hungary and Austria will explore their cultural, religious, national differences and similarities. Creative and competitive games, group-dynamic sessions and discussion groups will offer opportunities to explore the conscious and unconscious motives which may stand in the way to mutual understanding and turn intended cooperation into unfriendliness and hostility.

Psychoanalytic large groups will offer opportunity for introspection into unconscious, contradictory attitudes and feelings which may conflict with our declared attitudes and convictions. How will we confront these feelings? Will we be able to accept and integrate them or will we want to "expel" them, where will we "put" them, what will we do about them?

Adolescence is a time at which people can be more direct, more emotional, less inhibited than adults, a time at which the image of oneself, of others and of the world has not yet formed; adolescents can be more open, more courageous than adults; the development of their personality is not yet completed; they can still be shaped and formed by new experience and correct whatever view of the world has been conveyed to them by their parents. They are neither reckless nor untroubled as we often like to see them, but affected by the political catastrophes of which their parents or grandparents had been victims. They are children of victims or children of actors and do perceive themselves as victims, or as actors, and the "other", accordingly, as avenger or enemy. This is how polarised images of victims or actors are passed on from one generation to another, how rigid images of the self and the "other" are being solidified and political changes impeded.

To confront these and other questions pertinent to the political awareness of young people is the aim of peacecamp 2006: What will we do when we discover the "enemy", the "stranger", the unloved and rejected "other" as a part of ourselves? What will this discovery do to our self-perception? How will it influence our perception of others?

4 groups of youth from Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Austria and Hungary will participate in the project. All groups will get a preparation beforehand; adult team-members will go through analytic large-group experience before the camp as part of their preparation.

A psychological study conducted by the University of Vienna will assess the impact of the workshop on parameters like tolerance towards others, empathy, conflict-management, impulse control, political awareness and maturity.

Evelyn Böhmer-Laufer

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