"ESHED", a Hebrew acronym meaning "citizenship, peace, and democracy", is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit educational organization established in 2001. ESHED, committed to the belief that peace is indeed possible between Israel and its neighbors, works to educate young people for active citizenship by cultivating democratic values, stressing the universal equality of individuals and peoples. Members of ESHED are educators and other professionals in the humanities - Jews and Arabs, secular and religiously observant - who share an over-arching dream of reconciliation and peace between the peoples of the region, on a foundation of mutual understanding, equality, and respect.
We know there are no shortcuts. Creating an environment of peace and reconciliation in our region, and strengthening democratic values, can be accomplished only by a substantive, long-term educational process, at the initiative of the moderate, peace-seeking public in Israel and the Arab countries. Hence, ESHED concentrates on joint, ongoing, long-term educational activities based on complete symmetry, equality, and respect.
In the context of this ideational and educational worldview, ESHED works with similar organizations in the Palestinian Authority and Jordan, to create learning materials and educational tools addressing peace, democracy and active citizenship. Over the last three years, more than 20 unique learning units have been written, by dozens of educators and academics from Israel and the Palestinian Authority. These units have been taught in various schools in Israel and the PA, and in addition have been utilized as a resource by core studies teachers (homeroom teacher-advisers) in schools, and by youth group leaders in non-formal education.
Along with its international efforts, ESHED also conducts educational programs within Israel. These mainly target classroom (core studies) teachers and community leaders - the assumption being that these constituencies have broad influence that multiplies geometrically. ESHED's educational activities within Israel stress education for values of democracy and active citizenship and incorporate the recommendations of an expert national commission on education (the Kremnitzer Report).
We hope to make a significant mark on current and future generations of teachers, youth advisers and community leaders - stressing tolerance, values of democracy and peace, and willingness to take responsibility.
For more information, please see ESHED's website.