The Muslim-Jewish Educational Initiative is a new educational program run by Dr Irena Mostowicz (GSIS member), PhD Candidate David Braunstein (GSIS member) and PhD Candidate Amin Elfeshawi (Private University of Education in Linz).
The vision of the Initiative is to inspire young people to understand their own identity and that of their peers and common citizens in a deeper and more connected way. Therefore, the aim of the Jewish-Muslim Educational Initiative is to bring knowledge to students high-school level and teachers about Jews and Muslims in general. With the pedagogical interventions the Initiative targets teenagers as main target group because their personality is still developing in an openness towards the world. Other target groups are students and multipliers of all confessions and without them. The program focuses on history, geographical differences, cultural, theological and everyday life similarities of both religious groups – Jews and Muslims.
Already for centuries diverse ethnic and religious minorities coexist in the Austrian Society. Nowadays, the heritage of the Austro-Hungarian Empire is mixed with the EU migration policy which aims to integrate diverse groups into one society. Jews and Muslims are an important part of this process. Although the Jewish community in Austria is relatively small and diverse, antisemitism does exist. Similarly to Muslims, who consist of a way bigger group but who still are a minority in Austria and who face different forms of discrimination. One of the reasons for antisemitism and Islamohostility might be the lack of intercultural knowledge in the educational program.
The goals of the education program are: a limitation of stereotypes and prejudices, a general educational process through personality development to increase a level of social solidarity and tolerance, fight against antisemitism and Islamohostility.
Finally, the project is planned to be promoted internationally and incorporated in other places where a similar problem occurs, e.g. in France, Germany, or Denmark. Although similar initiatives took place in aforementioned countries, the problem of hostility against the both religious groups did not disappear. A drastic increase in power of the right-wing political movements has a significant impact on the social discourse regarding the minorities. That affects mostly provincial areas which are less inhabited by minorities and which keep a high level of prejudices. The program is currently directed to schools outside Vienna since in the capital city a representation of different social groups is high.
The methods include workshops for school classes, universities and other institutions, educational events for schools, colleges, universities and other institutions, scientific publications, handouts, conferences and presentations.
The Muslim-Jewish Educational Initiative is powered by the Private University of Education in Linz and GSIS.
The first presentation of the project will take place on 7.12.2021 during the MOFET conference “The Third Mission”: International Virtual Conference on Teacher Education in Social and Environmental Context, in Israel.