Dear OneWorld Now community,
The OneWorld Now staff and board have been horrified by the recent violence in Palestine and Israel. We condemn the attack of Hamas on innocent Israeli civilians on October 7th, and we condemn the response of the Israeli government that has resulted in the deaths of innocent Palestinian civilians.
As an organization that has taught Arabic since our founding in 2002, we have deep connections across the Middle East, and we know that many in our community are feeling deep pain and grief as a result of the bloodshed. This includes me, a Jew who previously spent five years working for an organization that brings together Palestinian and Israeli teenagers for interfaith dialogue, leadership development, and social change projects.
OneWorld Now recognizes the deep complexity of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the ways in which the conflict further polarizes discourse here in the United States. In particular, we recognize that the conflict increases both Islamophobia and antisemitism around the world. In light of this, OneWorld Now has signed the Washington Statement In Solidarity with Jews and Palestinians, and we urge members of our community to do the same. Highlights of this statement include the following:
OneWorld Now was founded in response to another time of violence: the September 11 attacks. Our founder, Kristin Hayden, believed strongly that violence could not be met with violence. True change would come through education, through empathy, and through the difficult work of truly getting to know the people we thought were our enemies. This is why we teach languages like Arabic (and Chinese, Korean, and Russian), languages that are spoken in parts of the world that the US has often been in conflict with, and also why we teach leadership skills that allow youth to develop as global citizens.
As I shared with our students and families at the orientation for our after-school program this year, learning a language and developing leadership skills might seem like very small steps when confronted with violence on the scale of what has been happening in Israel/Palestine. But we believe that it is one of the most powerful things that we can do to change the world. It is very difficult to hate someone that you know well, and one of the best ways to know someone well is to learn their language, to learn their culture, and to learn skills to engage with that person with respect, curiosity, and humility.
Finally, while they may not always make the headlines, we want to acknowledge that there are many other conflicts that continue to claim innocent lives around the world, including many in countries that speak the languages we teach.
We will continue to provide educational opportunities that aim to reduce the possibility of future wars, while also speaking out against the wars of today.