Interfaith Encounter Association
|Key people||Yehuda Stolov (founder)|
|Service(s)||creation and facilitation of groups, meetings and events.|
|Method(s)||cross-cultural communal issues, interfaith issues, peace-building in the Holy Land|
|Motto||"The Interfaith Encounter Association is dedicated to promoting peace in the Middle East through interfaith dialogue and cross-cultural study. We believe that, rather than being a cause of the problem, religion can and should be a source of the solution for conflicts that exist in the region and beyond".|
The Interfaith Encounter Association (IEA) is an Israeli-based non-profit organization. Its primary purpose is to foster dialogue between different religious groups within the Holy Land (specifically Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze and Bahá'ís). This is done on a grass roots level and throughout Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
In the fall of 2001 – in the wake of over a year of violence in the Middle East (from the Second Intifada) and the September 11 attacks in the U.S. – the newly formed IEA set itself to the task of building and strengthening a grassroots interfaith movement for peace, justice, and sustainability in the Holy Land and in the Middle East. Envisioning a society in which the "otherness" of "the other" is not only accepted, but truly understood and respected, the IEA dedicated itself to promoting real coexistence and human peace in the Middle East through cross-cultural study and inter-religious dialogue.
The IEA was founded on the following principles and goals:
- Equal representation of all faiths in the IEA.
- Gender equality in the decision making processes and activities of the IEA.
- Outreach to individuals and communities from all faiths, age groups, walks of life, and levels of society.
- Outreach to individuals and communities across the religious-secular and political spectra.
- Continual recruitment via committed activists on the local and regional levels.
- Implementation of interactive programs that effectively change outlooks and attitudes, such as extended weekend seminars and ongoing study groups.
- Continual development of new models for effective encounter.
- Ongoing evaluation of all strategies and programs.
Since 2001, the IEA has grown from just six groups to forty six, with a growth of an estimated amount of 800 participants to an estimated amount of 6000 participants.
The IEA operates within three concentric circles of interfaith work. 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 Bahais living within Israel. According to their website, 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 Territories. The work of the first and second circles, according to IEA's organizers, 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, Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey.
Additionally, the IEA maintains three interconnected programmatic sections. The first section, commonly regarded as the general program, is accessible to all segments of society, regardless of age or sex. The Women's Interfaith Encounter (WIE) was launched in the winter of 2001 to address women's needs while the third programmatic section, the Youth Interfaith Encounter (YIE), designs and implements programs specifically for young adults. The YIE was created 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.
The IEA also maintains connections and relationships with many international interfaith organizations and networks. The IEA is a Member Group of the International Association for Religious Freedom, 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 and the Goldin Institute. The IEA is also a member in the Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations and a founding member of the Partnership Committee for the United Nations Decade of Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace.
The group also keeps up-to-date information on their events and meetings at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/iea-reports/
Listed from north to south:
- Karmiel-Majd el-Krum
- M'ghar – Sawa Rabina
- M'ghar – Shibolot
- M'ghar – Bridging
- M'ghar – Lana
- M'ghar - Green Light
- Galilee Women's Interfaith Encounter (WIE)
- Haifa WIE
- University of Haifa Youth Interfaith Encounter (YIE)
- Carmel City
- Wadi Ara WIE
- Living Together in Wadi Ara
- Tel Aviv University YIE
- Petach Tikva – Kfar Kasem
- Tel Aviv-Jaffa
- Talking – Mt. Scopus YIE
- IEA Reut-Sadaqa
- Study and Dialogue
- Jerusalem WIE
- Jerusalem YIE
- Jewish-Christian study of the Gospel of Matthew
- Abu Dis And Maaleh Adumim
- Ein Karem – Health Equality for all People in Israel
- Jerusalem Arabic Speaking group
- The Future – Mothers and Daughters
- Jerusalem-Hebron YIE
- In acknowledgement of IEA's work, UNESCO has recognized the IEA as an organization that is contributing to the culture of peace and as an actor of the global movement for a culture of peace (a United Nations initiative).
- Prize for Humanity (February 2006): Awarded to the IEA and its executive director Yehuda Stolov. As described, this award honors those who risked all to protect others of a different faith or ethnic origin.
- Women's Peace Initiative Award (October 2007): Awarded to Ms. Najeeba Sirhan and Ms. Osnat Aram-Daphna, the coordinators of the Karmiel & Majd el-Krum Interfaith Encounter group, for being selected as the recipients of the Women’s Peace Initiative Award of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding.
- INTR°A-Project Award for the Complementation of Religions (Oct, 2007): Awarded to the IEA, included a substantial monetary grant.
- The film Interfaith Encounter in the Galilee, produced by IEA to present the work of its school-twinning project, was awarded the Commendable Effort at the Second World Peace Film & Music Festival by the World Movement for Global Democracy.
- In May 2008, the IEA was one of the sixty projects, selected as the entrepreneurial projects that will change the face of tomorrow to present at the Israeli Presidential Conference – one of only eleven social projects and the only project of peaceful coexistence.
- BBC Heart & Soul Radiocast (from IEA website)
- Chicago Public Radio's Worldview
- Global Dialogue Center
- Washington Jewish Week
- The World