Monthly Archives: May 2007

Opportunity to Sponsor: Hi-Tech Training at Bethlehem University

Munir Bannoura, a Palestinian-American senior Engineer at Freescale Semiconductor Inc., (Formely part of Motorola), offered a 3 day training seminar to students who are about to graduate in computer science. “The students, young men and women were eager to learn the latest advances in hi-tech and they demonstrated knowledge and capability during these 3 days,” said Munir.

This training is part of a larger project that Munir is coordinating with Bethlehem University.

Through his company Munir has offered Bethlehem University a set of evaluation kits based on Freescale’s microcontrollers to provide professors the ability to develop hands-on lab experiments and teach students the cutting edge technology.

Munir and I met with the president of Bethlehem University, Father Daniel Casey, to discuss the potential of creating a Masters degree program in engineering, specifically dealing with semiconductor technology to prepare engineers that can be hired by foreign companies who are looking to outsource such jobs. Father Casey, being someone who understands the need for 21st century advances in Palestine, gave his unwavering support to the program and asked Munir to start the process with the Dean of the College of Computer Sciences.

This project is an integral part of the Build Palestine Initiative. It represents the kind of efforts that are conducive to building capacities in Palestinians to equip them to handle the challenges of the 21st century markets.

However, building capacities is not enough without providing young men and women with the appropriate jobs that will allow them to excell, as well as to make a decent living and increase their chances to be a vital part of the decision making process for the future of Palestine.

For sponsors who are interested in sponsoring the Masters Degree program or the business activities associated with this project, we will be posting details about it on our sponsorship page.

The First SDi Training in an Arab Country

The 3 day training Dr Beck and I offered in Ramallah to a group of highly competent professional Palestinians, was the first Spiral Dynamics integral-Level 1 training in the Arab world. The training was organized by Deema Al-Shawa who heads Palestine Integral Committee in Ramallah .

The 16 participants were asked to send in their Curriculum Vitae and were excited about the opportunity to learn the SDi methodologies and applications to the region, especially that Dr Beck used such methodologies to support the peaceful transition from Apartheid in South Africa. Palestinians consider Madiba-Nelson Mandela the role model for the Palestinian leadership, and wish that a Madiba type leader will emerge from their midst to lead Palestine and Israel out of this bloody conflict.

The participants backgrounds varied between graduate and Business administration students, a pharmacist, al Jazeera- International representative, Al Arabyia producer, Financial advisers, and Palestinians who head various local UN programs, a psychologist and engineers. They were fully engaged in intense sessions that covered the basis of the theory, interactive exercises and applications to the conflict.
Both Dr Beck and I were impressed by the level of intelligence and participation of the audience. The questions they asked showed a sincere interest in the application of the conceptual framework to support their own individual emergence, their organizations’ emergence and to the Emergence of the Palestinian in general.
May 12-13-14th were three days full of insights for all of us facilitators and trainees, as well as of Arab and Texan humour and loud laughs that created a wonderful experience for all.
The echo of the work of pioneering young Palestinians reverberated in the hearts and minds of Kuwaitis who believe in our work in Palestine and was well expressed by Fadwa Al-Homaizi, a leading Arab business woman from Kuwait, who said:
“hi Elza and Don, i want to thank you both for the incredible work you’re doing in Palestine. Your courage, passion, and efforts are recognized and admired. SDi is truly the foundation for change in the Middle East, and we are ready for it. It’s great to see such positive reactions, especially from the Palestinian Youth. Please tell them that I salute their initiative. By getting involved, Palestinian youth are role models for the whole of the Arab world.
It is truly inspiring.”

Lebanon’s continuing Saga…

We got back home on Saturday, May 19th. I decided to take the Sunday off to spend it with my husband Said, and continue blogging on the activities in Ramallah the day after.

I woke up the next day to the disturbing news from Lebanon. 23 Lebanese soldier were ambushed and killed by Fatah Al-Islam, an alquaeda cell who is trying to pose as a Palestinian faction.

It has nothing to do with Islam nor with Fatah movement. A bunch of Syrian, Saudi, Bangladeshi, Palestinian and Yemeni thugs trying to re-kindle a civil war in Lebanon. The fighting in Nahr-Al Bared Camp was followed by two big blasts in Ashrafieh-East Beirut, a mostly Christian area, and Verdun, West-Beirut that is mostly Sunni.

These sad events in Lebanon that followed the internal fighting in Gaza are a constant reminder to all of us Arabs of the relentless work that we need to be doing to help the region emerge to a more stable stage. Palestinian, Lebanese and Iraqis had enough of these volatile situations.

I will continue my narrative of the work in Ramallah in the upcoming blogs, to document the progress that the Palestinian groups are making towards an Integral solution.

An Inspiring Dedication…and Health

Our schedule on this trip was really busy; training on Spiral Dynamics level 1 and 2, presentations to various groups and one on one meetings with Ministers, members of Parliament, business leaders and academics.

Dr Beck insisted on attending the last meeting scheduled yesterday with Professor Yaar ( The Peace Index Project), before he admitted to us that he was feeling really ill. What worried me the most was his heavy breathing and sharp pains. We rushed him to the hospital were he underwent all kind of tests. The doctors wanted to make sure they monitored him for 24 hours before being released. I was worried about him and about Pat, his wonderful wife, recieving the news in Texas and not being able to be next to him. Pat was very supportive and calm, and kept telling Don that she has a strong intuition that everything is ok. That calmed both of us down…

The next day we tried to be at the hospital around 7 am, knowing that once Don wakes up he would want to leave immidiately. Hospitals and Don don’t mix. We waited until the doctors told us everything was ok, and left. He felt much better the next day, but the trip back to the US was also taxing on his health.

Don is giving his all to this initiative, as he does to any initiative he is working on all over the world. He is one of the most dedicated people I have ever met. Many people talk “the integral talk” but do not walk the walk. Don is one of the few experts in the world who are working on Large Scale Change in cultures and countries. People we met in the region were hanging on the every word he said, and knew that what he is proposing is promising, realistic and has a lot of potential.

“His track record is impressive and his design is fresh, complex and well thought out,” a well known politician in the region said that about Don to me.

It is a true honor for me to be working with someone like Don. I call his work spirituality in action…

From South Africa to Palestine, a Radio Station …

93.6 Ram FM Peace Radio
Israel and Palestine Linked as 93.6 Ram FM Gets Them Talking

“John Berks?!” Don shouted…”Berks and I go way back to South Africa and 702 Talk Radio, the station that played a major role in the transition from Apartheid.”

Two of our colleagues called 93.6 FM to set up an interview for Dr. Beck with the station that is based in Ramallah. They knew that this was a sister station to 702 Talk Radio in South Africa. However no one knew that Dr. Beck and John Berks, legendary South African talk show host, have done many interviews in South Africa during Apartheid and knew each other very well.

What a pleasant surprise that was…

“You were one of the architects of the peaceful transition from Apartheid, Don. Are you coming here to Palestine to work on a similar design? And where do you see the similarities in these two conflicts?” Berks asked Dr. Beck.

(we will be posting an audio of the interview soon)

The interview that followed marked an important moment in discussing a rare application and model that was successfully applied by Dr. Beck in South Africa and now is being applied to design the transition from this Middle Eastern conflict.

Here’s a description of the Radio station and it’s potential role in a meaningful dialogue:
  • “If anyone should know about creating peace in a potentially explosive situation, it is the South Africans.
    Johannesburg entrepreneur Issie Kirsh of Primedia has launched a state-of-the-art FM radio station broadcasting 24 hours a day in English to audiences across Israel and Palestine in an attempt to get people in the Middle East talking to each other. “There is a need for a daily debate on the issues affecting both Israelis and Palestinians,” he says, “and this is the driving force behind 93.6 Ram FM. We are doing it in English, which will also soon open the broadcasts to international listeners via satellite.”

… And it so happened that Issie Kirsh was visiting Ramallah this week. The station manager Maysoun Ganga made sure that Dr. Beck and Issie Kirsh met at the station. Don and Issie embraced like two old friends. Issie said to Don, “Do you remember the first time you told us in South Africa about a paradigm shift? We didn’t know what that meant back then. Now we know.”

Maysoun and I will be working on a format for a radio talk show moderated by young people from the region, that will use the Spiral Dynamics integral framework to address change.

Again the power of GenY…

Did I say we work with all Palestinians?!

In case you thought we are training Fatah because we have a political preference, we simply don’t. We train and meet with any and all Palestinians who ask us to explain the framework and explain the design methodologies.

On May 7th, Nafiz organized a presentation for a group of Palestinians led by PLC member Khalid Tafesh Dwaib and a group of scholars and directors he works with.

And in Ramallah, we are training people from all backgrounds.

It is a Build Palestine Initiative, led by Palestinians.

Palestinian "Generation Y" Defines a Brighter Future

Firas, Muhamad, Ayman, Thaer and 10 other young men, are graduating this year with college degrees in Marketing, Accounting, Psychology and Computer Science. None of them has any hopes of getting a job in their respective fields. Oh, yes… Ayman had a job with a branch of Microsoft for few months, but they closed their business in that area and life has not been the same for him since.

I asked them “What can you do?” They shook their heads and smiled. The pride of these educated young men keeps them from complaining. Their resilience is something to behold!

At the two-day training we offered in Bethlehem, Natural Design was “naturally” exhibited: The young men sat on one side of the U-shaped conference hall, and the rest of the 30 attendees sat on the other side of the table. The first day we heard many comments, questions and at times “mini speeches” from the older participants. Nothing on the young side. At the end of day one, I asked our young participants if they agree with what the others said and if not, why they didn’t react.

“Why should we react?” said Thaer, “We do not agree with most of what they said, but why spend time and energy debating a dead subject? We are here to learn a new conceptual framework, and are expecting you and Dr. Beck to guide us towards practical steps to take, to build the necessary systems to enable emergence.”

WOW! So that’s why they were quiet…

The next day, we asked the participants to write their vision for a brighter and successful future. Our young men got into groups, and wrote a very optimistic vision that included:

  • Better educational systems that will attract Arab students from all over the Arab world.
  • A beacon of technology, education and invention.
  • A good health care system.
  • The rule of law.
  • Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
  • … and more.

The other participants repeated some of the points the young men mentioned and added other valid points.

However, as I was moderating the feedback/feedforward vision session, I noticed that both groups were not listening to each other. Each side was focused only on what they themselves had written. Neither side validated the points that the other side made. It became clear to me that there is a definite generational divide that needs to be addressed if these Palestinians want to continue working together. The session that followed was a brutal but necessary awareness to many of the participants.

The older Fatah members told me that their movement was socially responsible and dedicated to improving the life conditions of the Palestinian people, up until 1994. I asked them to pause for a second, and turned to our college students and asked, “How old were you in 1994?”

Eleven, twelve, and thirteen years old.

“So you cannot honor the past actions of the other members, and all you hear now is words and promises of reform?”


I asked the older members to talk about the structures and systems they had before 1994, and the kind of services they offered. To the surprise of the young crowd, many facts, numbers and successes were an integral part of Fatah history up till that date.

A shift happened in the room. The Fatah leaders felt validated and honored and were now able to give space to the young leaders to express themselves. Well, it also took some humor to get them to listen. Don said, “Let these young men do the work and you the wise ones can sit back, relax and take the credit!”

The conversations at lunch and coffee breaks completely changed after that session. I could see groups of young men and older gentlemen clustering together and discussing, young/old perspectives.

What a joy…

A picture is worth….

Well, I discovered that it is not easy to work full days in this region and….write a blog in the evening.
I thought Don’s picture with the Fatah group speaks for itself.
The group asked the gentleman holding the spiral brochure, to hold for the whole group. He said to them “Hold your own Spiral, this mine…I am emerging first :)
We arrived today to Ramallah to start a 3 day SDi Level one training. This is the first Certfifcation training offered in an Arab country.

Fatah Training in Bethlehem

I woke up to Azan Al-Fajr, the pre-dawn call to prayer, a beautiful resounding sound breaking the silence of Bethlehem.

Don and I arrived to Bethlehem yesterday,Sunday May 6th, and started our two day Fatah training. Fatah members came from Nablus, Al-Khalil, Salfit, Jericho, Ramallah and the surrounding areas. Many took a 4 to 5 hour trips to get here, having to wait at check points and go around certain restricted areas. They told us that the ‘colors’ of Dr Beck attracted them to the training, and the hope to learn a new framework that can help reform their movement.

This training was set up by our colleague Nafiz Rifaee, a Fatah leader, who believes that the integral approach we are offering, is key to solving the problems of the Fatah movement. The breakdown of communication between the leadership, the revolutionary guard and the young generation in Fatah contributed to them loosing the elections to Hamas. That and many other factors of course.

When they asked Don about ways to reform their party, Don said “you cannot afford to Reform, you have to Transform. You have to regain the hearts and minds of the Palestinians and regain the trust of the street and of the world.”

Most of the young men who attended our January training came back this time. I was very happy to hear their positive feedback and how they are looking for ways to apply the Spiral Dynamics framework to communicate with the leadership. But what breaks my heart is to hear these spirited young men talk about the absence of opportunities for them. Most of them are graduating this year from college with no prospects for jobs or joyous anticipation to join the 21st century job market.

The young men kept quite when older attendees tried to take the stage and repeat some depressing facts about what they did, and failed. I looked at they young men and saw frustration on their faces. I asked Shadi, why don’t you express your thoughts and stop the people in the room who want to drag you to past glories and missed opportunities. He wisely said that there is no point in putting energy into opposing what the others, and go into blame and be blamed debates. Instead, he wants to put his energy into creating a strategy and doing what is right to help his movement and country.

We’re going back today for day two of the training that goes into practical steps they can take to help their movement emerge.

I just opened the sliding doors in my hotel room and a breeze carrying the smells of Jasmin and roses filled the room to the sounds of chirping birds. Oh, how much this town reminds me of Zahle, my childhood town in the Bekaa Valley. I feel like walking to the neighbor’s house for morning Turkish coffee and the reading of the cup…