2021 is no ordinary year for Vacation from War – the Corona pandemic continues to have a significant impact on life in the project regions, and due to travel restrictions in Israel and Palestine, as well as in the former Yugoslavia, the possibilities for cross-border encounters and dialogue meetings are still considerably limited. This has changed the rhythm of our work – while most activities used to be concentrated in the summer months, more activities than usual are now taking place throughout the year.
A lot of spontaneity, flexibility and also the willingness to prepare meetings and activities with the risk of them not being able to take place has been required from our partners in recent months. This was necessary in order to be able to use those periods for meetings and dialogue work when infection numbers were low and restrictions for travel and physical meetings were relaxed. We are therefore very happy that the partners in both project regions were able to organise a number of activities and meetings in spite of the continuing difficult conditions.
In Israel, the Israeli team of the women*seminar organised two political tours for former participants and a weekend seminar to discuss the current political situation and political visions for the future.
The Palestinian participants of the women*seminar 2019 also met for a weekend seminar in Thalita Kumi, Beit Jala. In addition, the long-planned facilitation training for Palestinians could finally begin. For the Palestinian team in particular, it is a challenge to find new members – not only because dialogue work in the Palestinian (and increasingly also in the Israeli) context is implies great risks and regularly also political repression, but also because there are only few offers for trainings in the field of facilitation in the West Bank., especially for trainings with a focus on binational facilitation for political dialogue. The next part of the training is planned for October. Due to the political escalation in May and the Corona pandemic, the planned binational meeting of former Israeli and Palestinian participants could not (yet) take place.
The second partnership in Israel and Palestine, which works on trialogue with Jewish Israelis, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and Palestinians from the West Bank, is now in the second phase of its strategy and planning process, which aims at starting with new trialogue groups in autumn 2022. The first meetings and discussions with former participants and staff have taken place, many alumni are involved in the process through questionnaires and interviews, and a final conceptual planning seminar is scheduled for winter 2021/22 in Cyprus or Jordan.
In the former Yugoslavia, various activities took place continuously in the local partner cities, and youngsters from Srebrenica also visited their friends in Tuzla. At the beginning of August, on the initiative of Vlasta Markovic, a long-time YU- Peace activist, a joint visit to the „War Childhood Museum“ was realised.
The highlight of the summer for all partners in the former Yugoslavia, however, was the meeting in Medena, Croatia (see next page). Numerous political workshops and discussions motivated the participants to continue to) work for peace and take a stand against hatred and nationalism. Mujo Adzemovic from Gornji Vakuf-Uskoplje summarised this as follows: „We will always and everywhere stand in the way of all those who preach hatred, and I am sure they are far fewer than us. Let us raise our voices and give them no leeway whatsoever. We can do it!“