The Palestinian-Israeli Emerging Leaders Program aims to contribute to a sustained shift in the way Israeli and Palestinian leaders, in a wide variety of sectors including political, private, and civil society, relate to each other, their own communities, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. The program is a shared experiential learning and leadership development initiative for recognized leaders from both sides of the conflict. It begins with a catalyst ten-day, overseas, wilderness expedition and continues throughout the year with workshops in the region and two four-day retreats. A joint effort of Outward Bound Peacebuilding and locally-based partner Search for Common Ground Jerusalem, the program empowers emerging leaders aged 25-45, from different sectors and backgrounds, to launch initiatives that improve their local communities and reach across the Israeli-Palestinian divide. Outward Bound Peacebuilding is implementing its 6th year of programming with leaders from Israel and the West Bank.
Carefully selected participants commit to a one year program beginning with the catalyst expedition. Outward Bound Peacebuilding designs and implements the expedition—an experience that builds a foundation for trust and increases the leadership skills of the participants. The program continues throughout the year with workshops in the region and two overseas retreats, including an annual “Connecting the Hub” event. During this retreat, alums from previous groups are invited to participate in an aim to integrate the new groups into the overall network. In the final phase, participants are welcomed into the Palestinian-Israeli Leaders Network, a self-sustaining network amongst strategically positioned leaders with the potential to address Israeli-Palestinian tension and instability.
Early indications demonstrate that the model can create positive and sustained intergroup relations and provide incentives for working together for change. Alumni uniformly praise the quality of their experiences, attributing their recent personal and professional growth to the program. They characterized the program as “unique” when asked to compare the program to other leadership programs. Others described it as “amazing and powerful”, “simply incomparable… in a different league”, “unparalleled”, “the most effective program I have ever had”, and “a life changing process”.