Rolly Rosen and Shahira Shalabi, staff members of SHATIL's Conflict Transformation and Management Center (CTMC) flew to Northern Ireland last month to explore relevant lessons from the Irish experience in inter-community conflict and to share lessons from their experience in Israel. They led eight other Arab and Jewish women activists from five organizations that deal with the conflict between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs in a joint learning group. The trip was co-organized by the CTMC and Vital Voices (www.vitalvoices.org), a Washington based organization that invests in women who pioneer economic development, political participation, and human rights in their countries. A group of leading women activists from South Africa joined the tour, enabling an even richer exchange of experiences.
The visitors met with leading women activists from civil society, dialogue and conflict management organizations and the Derry and Belfast city councils as well as with leading experts on the conflict from Ulster and Belfast universities.
"The exchange with the group and with the Irish organizations was powerful," says Shahira. "Seeing that a seemingly intractable conflict could be transformed and can now managed in more constructive ways, gave me back my hope."
The trip to Ireland comes on the heels of the United Nation's Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) awarding of Consultative Status to SHATIL and is one more example of SHATIL's growing international stature.