/* Milonic DHTML Website Navigation Menu Version 5, license number 187760 Written by Andy Woolley - Copyright 2003 (c) Milonic Solutions Limited. All Rights Reserved. Please visit http://www.milonic.com/ for more information. */











Arab & Jewish Children's Program: Living Together





Overview: The Goal

Program for Arab Schools

Animal Abuse & Human Aggression

Arab & Jewish Children's Program

Campus for Compassionate Living

Resources for Teachers





We have temporarily suspended our Living Together program. Your support will make it possible to start this very important project again.


Opening Ceremony, 2000


Learning to Love Animals — and Each Other
Article about CHAI's First Living Together Program, 1995


Opening Ceremony, 2000

Amid increasing violence in the Middle East, CHAI reinitiated its award-winning Living Together program, which brings Jewish and Arab children together to learn empathy and respect for others who are different. The opening ceremony, held at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel (SPCA), in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, was attended by government representatives, legislators, and celebrities.


Present were representative of the Ministry of the Environment Avi Balishnikov; Tel Aviv Deputy Mayor Michael Roe; Knesset Members Colette Avital, Tamar Gozansky and Avraham Poraz; Israel's top singer and comedienne Orna Banai; movie producer and director Menachem Golan; actor Arieh Moskuna; children's TV stars Hani Nachmias and Dudu Dotan; singer Yafit Zofida; and others. Also present were children from the Arab and Jewish schools participating in CHAI's project — Achva and Givat Hatmarim — both in heavily Arab-populated Jaffa.


Scientific research shows that instilling empathy for animals in children has a significant impact on creating a non-violent society. The link between violence toward people and toward animals was the subject of a major international conference co-sponsored by CHAI and Israel's Ministry of Education in 1994. (See Animal Abuse and Human Aggression.)


The hallmark of CHAI's Living Together program, which is led by Jewish and Arab teachers, is that it involves children in hands-on, experiential activities through which they learn to view animals, the environment, and other people from differing perspectives and to develop empathy for others who are different from themselves. The program is led by CHAI's Educational Coordinator in Israel and by Arab teacher and specialist in co-existence programs, Almaza Jabar.


Partially funded by The Abraham Fund, the program won a Planet Safari Award from the New York organization Global Communications for Conservation. Arab and Jewish children and their parents representing the program were flown gratis by British Airways to England to participate in an international children's conference on the environment that emerged from the Brazilian Summit on the Environment. The children hosted a booth at the event that showcased their work in Israel.


Israeli newspapers and the International Herald Tribune reported on the opening ceremonies. Movie producer Menachem Golan was also interviewed on Israeli TV with several of the children.  





Learning to Love Animals — and Each Other
Article about CHAI's First Living Together Program, 1995

by Ruth Heiges
World Zionist Press Service


"The dog ate my homework" cannot serve as an excuse in a course where the dog may very well be the homework.


Broadening its scope CHAI — Concern for Helping Animals in Israel — has recently completed its first experimental program to promote pluralism among children. Through learning about animals and their care, 40 Jewish and Arab children have been learning to care about each other.


Twice a month for six months, 20 Jewish 9-year olds from the Gabrieli school in affluent North Tel Aviv met with 20 Arab 9-year olds from the Hassan Arfeh School in Jaffa at the SPCA shelter in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, in the framework of the Living Together program.


"Certain behavior which children exhibit toward animals reflects their own experiences," says Nina Natelson, the founder of CHAI, which is based in Alexandria, Virginia.


"On the most disturbing level, those who abuse animals are often themselves the victims of abuse. With this in mind, we theorized that a certain reversal might also be achievable; that nurturing a caring attitude toward animals might then be broadened into a caring attitude toward other humans."


With the approval of the Ministry of Education's Unit for Democracy and Coexistence and the involvement of each class's teacher, the children embarked on an adventurous experiment. Questionnaires were filled out which sought to get a reading on the children's attitudes both towards animals and each other:


"There is something good in every animal — even those I don't like. Expand and explain." "Could you have an Arab or Jewish friend?" "What if we all had one identical culture?"


Only about one-quarter of the children had pets at home, and attitudes towards animals among the remainder ranged from indifference to fear. Many had never even touched an animal. The Jewish children, who had no contact with Arabs, tended to be hesitant, whereas the Arab children from Jaffa, which is about 60% Jewish, were more open to their counterparts.


Such was the context in which the children embarked on their journey of discovery. Through diverse means — from role-playing to crafts projects and films teaching how to stroke animals in order to promote trust — each began to learn about the other and genuine bonds began developing between the children and the animals themselves.





During the program, the film, Protecting the Web, was screened, which explained the place and value of every living creature in the balance of nature. After its showing, the children were told to hold hands and form a giant web.


The child in the center represented the sun; the others represented plants and animals. One by one the children were removed from the web to illustrate how quickly it weakened, to the detriment of the whole, whether through lack of respect or carelessness.


In another exercise, each child was asked to make an animal mask.  He then had to pretend to be that animal and try to project how the animal feels when it is abused, neglected, or caged.


"This helps the children understand what an animal feels like when, say, a larger creature like a human approaches it," explains CHAI's director. "One child identified very much with the snake and was able to understand that snakes strike out not because they are evil, but simply to defend themselves. This leads to a greater sense of empathy for the suffering of others and encourages a deeper sense of involvement with various moral problems."


Ultimately, all the children became comfortable not only with dogs, cats, and snakes, but also with each other. Children who feared animals became concerned care-givers and children who feared each other began chatting regularly on the telephone. They sat together as one group and eagerly anticipated hosting each other at their respective schools.


At the end of six months, the children were asked to fill out the same questionnaires they had been given at the beginning of the program. The changes in attitude were dramatic.


Whereas 80% had disagreed with the statement that "There is something good in every animal — even those I don't like," by the end of the program, 90% expressed agreement. At the start, 60% had agreed that "You can never know how an animal feels, since it can't talk." At the end, 95% disagreed, explaining that one can know through an animal's eyes and body language.


The program's success has spread by word-of-mouth and educators up and down the country have requested that their classes participate. Perhaps as more and more Jewish and Arab children participate in the program, developing respect and compassion for animals and each other, their attitudes will pave the way to a more tolerant society.