The Compassionate Listening Project (TCLP) has earned respect as one of the oldest NGOs working in Israel and Palestine in the field of Track II Diplomacy. Over the past 20 years, founder Leah Green has ushered nearly 600 American citizens on immersion delegations throughout Israel and Palestine.
These delegations have resulted in an extensive network of informed leaders across the U.S. Our alumni make a significant contribution to peace-making efforts: educating in their home communities and rallying strong support for reconciliation leaders in Israel and Palestine, including organizing speaking tours and conferences.
Because many of our alumni are trusted and respected leaders in their home communities, they have been able to create and sustain successful Middle East peace projects and organizations that promote cross-cultural and interfaith peace-building. (see below for some alumni stories and links to their projects).
In the course of this work, TCLP has built trusted relationships with Israelis and Palestinians from all sides of the conflict in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza ¬– from Settlers to Hamas leaders. We began inviting them together for workshops, trainings and people-to-people programs in 1999, and have been offering trainings since that time. As a result, Compassionate Listening curricula has been incorporated into Israeli and Palestinian peace efforts and organizations.
The curriculum for Compassionate Listening that our certified facilitators now teach worldwide grew directly out of our reconciliation work on the ground with Israelis and Palestinians. We’ve adapted our curriculum for multi-cultural audiences, and train and facilitate in a variety of settings worldwide, including business, religious, academic and activist communities. TCLP established an Advanced Training and Facilitator Certification program in 2003 in the USA that over 100 people have now completed. Our curriculum has been integrated into mediation and other training programs, core curricula at Universities and colleges, and schools and peace curricula.
Delegation Alumni and Links:
Reena Lazar, co-founder of the award-winning organization and peace camp in Vancouver, B.C.: Peace It Together
from their website:
“It was not until Reena attended a Compassionate Listening Delegation in 1999 that Reena learned first-hand about the lives of Palestinians. During that journey to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, Reena had the opportunity to listen to people with many different perspectives talk about the conflict, how it impacts their lives, and their hopes for the future. It was one of the most intense and transformative two-weeks of her life and it inspired her to change the focus of her career to peace work.
“Upon her return home, Reena joined Vancouver’s Palestinian and Jewish Women’s Dialogue Group for Peace, and began studying conflict resolution at the Justice Institute of British Columbia. In the summer of 2003, Reena co-facilitated compassionate listening and dialogue sessions at “Creativity for Peace,” a summer program for Israeli and Palestinian girls in New Mexico. The experience was so fulfilling and inspiring that Reena was determined to create a similar program in Canada.
“In the year that followed, Reena completed the advanced training in Compassionate Listening in Washington State while enrolling over fifty local volunteers to plan and organize the first Peace it Together program. It was in this context that Reena met Palestinian Adri Hamael and discovered their similar objectives to create understanding between people impacted by the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Reena and Adri later founded the Peace it Together Society.”
Deborah Schleuter participated in a Compassionate Listening delegation in 2003. Deeply inspired by the experience, she went on to co-found the Student Interfaith Peace Project (SIPP) at the University of Denver, Colorado.
Larry Snider, first participated in a TCLP delegation in 2001, and organized an Interfaith Leaders delegation with Ministers, Rabbis and Imams from the Philadelphia area in March, 2007, led by Leah Green and Maha El-Taji. Upon returning home, Larry and members of the delegation founded a non-profit organization, Interfaith Community for Middle East Peace, where they continue to organize educational events, publish articles, and held a major conference in May, 2009 on “The Role of Faith in the Middle East“. They secured an audience for the Israeli and Palestinian reconciliation leaders that they brought to the U.S., with Senator George Mitchell at the White House.
From the article: “Out of the ‘comfort zone’ and into interfaith understanding”:
ICMEP is an offshoot of a national group, Compassionate Listening, whose goal, Stephens explained, is: “As humanity we all have wounds, and around them is scar tissue; the heart is at the center. We try to get people to communicate from the heart.”
Larry Snyder, a member of Kehilat HaNahar in New Hope, Pa., is the coordinator of ICMEP, which sponsored a trip to Israel last year to bring together Israelis and Palestinians. “What we learned is that there is truth on all sides. We need to listen compassionately to people we don’t agree with as well as those who are easy to build bridges with,” he said. “It is a lot of work trying to build bridges with populations not used to working together.”
Cantor Robert Scherr is Jewish Chaplain at Willams College in Massachusetts. He participated on our Children of Abraham (all-Jewish) delegation in January 1998. He has continued to integrate the experience into his own work, conducting a joint program for Williams’ students with the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel, bringing students of various religious backgrounds to Jerusalem for a 10 day program entitled “Jerusalem: One City, Two Nations, Three Religions, Many Narratives.”