On the seam between the Centre and the Negev, where Palestinian and Jewish peripheries meet, the Achva College is located. As a peripheral bi-national space, we would expect the struggle against the Prawer-Begin plan and the discrimination of both Jewish and Palestinian residents would become a basis for cooperation. However, this reality of discrimination and dispossession which forms the students’ lives still doesn’t motivate them to work together, because there is no together. They share the canteen and the study rooms, but years of segregation in the education system and of demonization created an atmosphere of alienation and fear. The separation was institutionalized and created a reality where it’s difficult to find a reason to speak, ask and understand each other. Even if there is a joint interest, it is difficult to identify it.
This month we opened a Gemini group at Achva College for the first time. The project operates bi-national student groups on campuses, in cooperation with CRS and funded by USAID. The issue of the rift between the Jewish and Palestinian students came up as soon as the first session, when a Jewish participant said: ‘At recess I will always go to the Jewish students sitting together in the yard and never to an Arab group, I don’t know how to approach them.’ While a Palestinian student commented: ‘The situation is very bad, there is a strong separation between Jews and Arabs.’
It is clear to all group members that this reality must change. 100 Students were eager to take part in the project, but we were able to choose only twenty participants. At Gemini we work to build partnership where there is segregation, to promote dialogue where there is silencing, to create solidarity between people who see themselves and their struggles separately and to support the founding of activists groups which will jointly promote a social political alternative on campuses.