IPCRI Suspends Peace Education Program Over Budget Worries

The Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) has suspended its peace education program due to financial woes. Dozens of Jewish and Palestinian teachers from 70 schools in Israel and the West Bank received notification yesterday from the organization, whose peace education program aimed "to impact upon the formal educational systems in Israel and in Palestine to adopt a philosophy of peace education in all of the schools in Israel and in the Palestinian Authority."

According to the letter sent to the teachers, the tsunami in Asia and the war in Iraq have led to a sharp decline in the donations received by IPCRI, which was established in 1988.

Dr. Gershon Baskin, IPCRI's Israeli director, said that until the start of the intifada, the peace education project had brought Jewish and Palestinian students together in an effort to allay suspicions and allow them to get to know one another.

The jewel in the crown of the project was an annual get-together of Palestinian and Jewish teachers that was usually held in Turkey, which served as a neutral location that facilitated dialogue. The Turkey meetings - the last of which took place in the summer and was attended by 220 Jewish and Palestinian teachers - continued through the intifada.

"IPCRI's entire budget is $1.5 million a year," Baskin explained. "The educational project cost more than half of the budget, and we were forced therefore to announce the suspension of the project. We will try to find a new educational direction."