Grassroots Student Groups Calmly Tackle Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Take Less Confrontational Approach Than National Groups

Field Lessons: The Olive Tree Initiative brings students to Israel and the Palestinian areas, where they learn both sides’ narratives.
Courtesy of the Olive Tree Initiative
Field Lessons: The Olive Tree Initiative brings students to Israel and the Palestinian areas, where they learn both sides’ narratives.

By Seth Berkman

Published February 10, 2013, issue of February 08, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 5)

When bVIEW was founded in 2011, Arad said it was important that the new group stay unaffiliated with established organizations, so students could voice unpopular opinions in a non-hostile setting. Also important was bringing on speakers with a range of perspectives. “There’s no agenda here.”

This school year, bVIEW has held programs examining Zionism and the daily lives of Israelis and Palestinians at Brandeis.

Ashraf Hussein, a Palestinian student at Brandeis with Israeli citizenship, said he was impressed that student members of Students for Justice in Palestine and the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee were involved. “They still disagree on a lot of big issues, but at least they came together to listen,” he said. “It’s remarkable.

Olive Tree Initiative
University of California, Irvine

“Students join so they can say something and not be told what to do.”

The Olive Tree Initiative, which began at UC Irvine, has spread throughout the UC system and to 15 schools in the northeast.

Students from the schools — including Jews, Catholics and Muslims — embark on three-week educational trips to the Middle East, splitting their time between Israel and the Palestinian territories as well as meeting with 80 speakers, community leaders and politicians from a range of backgrounds. Upon returning to their campuses, the students are encouraged to use these conversations and experiences to enrich their communities, having been exposed to all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian argument.

“You can’t do that on college campuses, create the cognitive dissonance we experience on our trips,” said OTI Assistant Director Corey Feinstein. “We’re not an advocacy organization. On one level, advocacy organizations traditionally inform and tell their students what to say and how to say it, whereas with OTI, students join so they can say something and not be told what to do.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.