The beginning: Windows was established in 1991 by Jews and Palestinians from Israel. The organization was founded with the original aim of creating a bi-lingual magazine that would enable our children to grow up knowing each other and accepting each other as neighbors. From the start, our work has been based on a shared set of values and the determination to keep working together no matter the difficulties. This determination has allowed us to continue to work together through the Second Intifada, several wars, and mounting pressure and antagonism in our communities.
Expanding to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT); becoming a “triangle”: Following the publication of the first issue of the Magazine in 1995 (written by Jews and Palestinians from Tel Aviv and Jaffa), readers from the West Bank and Gaza approached us asking to join the editorial board. A new group of young journalists was then established in Gaza, which in turn resulted in family members and activists becoming members of Windows. In the mid 1990′s we cooperated with Palestinian NGOs on a less formal level, developing programs and jointly fundraising. By the year 2000 we realized that we had enough members and activists from the OPT to be a completely joint Jewish-Palestinian organization. Since then, Windows has functioned as a “triangle” organization made up of OPT Palestinians, Jewish Israelis and Palestinian citizens of Israel. Windows is unique in our emphasis on including these three societies in all levels of the organization – from the board of directors, to our staff team and facilitators, to the youth themselves. We believe that each of these groups face a distinct set of issues and we aim to ensure the representation of all voices.
Always developing: The flexibility of a being volunteer-based organization, (a spirit we maintain today despite the increase in paid staff members over the years), has helped us to remain original and creative and to come up with new solutions to challenges we face. In this spirit, our program developed. We started with our Youth Media Program to train “young journalists” in order for them to write for the Magazine. To reach wider audiences, we then developed an in-school workshop program to market and distribute the Magazine. To further expand our impact, we created a video continuation program. This also provided an opportunity for graduates of the Magazine program to continue their involvement in Windows.
Since 2000: The outbreak of the Second Intifada found us ready with experience and mutual trust that allowed us, not only to continue working together at a time when many organizations and projects ceased but also, to expand our activities. During this period Windows became a safe space for many peace activists who had “lost” their organizations and felt intimidated by the negative and oppressive street atmosphere. By the end of the first month of the Intifada (October 2000), we had begun a program of lectures, testimonies, debates, films, tours etc. offering information alternative to mainstream media sources, open to the general public in the Tel Aviv area. At about the same time, answering the needs from the ground, we began a Humanitarian Aid project through which Windows volunteers and members collected aid packages (of primarily clothing and household items). This project has continues today, delivering to the OPT and to needy communities inside Israeli on an almost weekly basis. The reputation we gained by our ability to continue working in spite of the Intifada and its impact on both societies, helped facilitate the growth of Windows.
Educational Achievements: The core of our work has always been our youth educational programs. Over the years, approximately 200 young journalists have actively taken part in a long-term process of producing the Magazine that in turn reached about 70,000 readers, on both side of the conflict, who each read several issues of the Magazine over a period of 2-4 years. Tens of thousands more read one or two issues and many more were exposed to the Magazine and its message of the possibility of equal dialogue without reading it.
Today Windows is considered to be a leading organization in the field of peace education. Our graduates are active in Windows and/or many other organizations spreading values of equality and human rights. Both our graduates and younger generations of Windows youth are testament to our determination to continue the struggle for justice and peace.