Tachles is a unique group in Haifa that brings together 150 Arab and Jewish teenagers, incorporating various groups separated by age and special interests, to meet together for about three hours per week for joint activities on the basis of common interests. The programme aims to address the fact that Arab and Jewish teenagers have hardly any opportunities to meet and get to know each other, a fact that contributes unfortunately to stereotypical-based judgment and mutual misunderstanding between the two groups.
Each group has one Arab and one Jewish facilitator. In professional groups (music, photography, arts), one of the facilitators is a professional advisor (musician, photographer, artist), whilst the other is a group dialogue facilitator. Seminars are held year-round dealing with questions of identity and encounters and end with a graduation trip. The participating youth learn to speak about themselves on personal, cultural, and political levels through various lenses:
- Arab-Jewish: discussing narratives, languages, and histories;
- Cultural: exploring the meaning of being young in today’s world;
- Activism: creating a shared society and a shared civic leadership.
All groups initiate and participate in activities contributing to the community from three to four times each year. For example, members of the theatre group volunteer for mixed groups (Jews and Arabs) in hospitals once they complete their training. Group themes include:
- Leadership (9th grade);
- Leadership (10th grade);
- Leadership (11th and 12th grades);
- Young Women (10th grade);
- Hi Tech.
During the programme’s third year of operation, an evaluation was carried out by professionals (questions and interviews). The major findings indicated a reduced number of stereotypes, increasing emphasis on the “Other’s” narrative and the “First opportunity to get to know the other in person”.
The action is done in co-operation with the Municipality Education Department, City Secretary’s Office and the local school (children are being recruited through the schools).