Responding to Crisis

STEP is heartbroken and horrified by the continued violence, destruction, loss of life and trauma experienced by our Palestinian and Israeli Fellows, colleagues and friends. We remain committed to the use of science to bridge social divides, strengthen relationships between Israelis and Palestinians, and create solutions to pressing health and environmental problems.

STEP is responding to and during the crisis in a number of ways. Our students and faculty are showing incredible bravery to work with each other at this time, but their commitment is strong. They are remarkable. (Please note that the situation is fluid and our strategies may shift accordingly.)

 

STEP ORGANIZATION AND ADMINISTRATION

  • STEP continues its commitment to pay for student scholarships. Students and faculty say they depend on STEP for its financial support, and for the safe environment that STEP helps create for Israeli and Palestinian graduate students to do science together.
  • STEP communicates regularly with faculty and students to provide moral support, and to make sure we have “our finger on the pulse” of how our community is experiencing the war and how we can respond.
  • We are not alone.
    • STEP is an active member of ALLMEP (Alliance for Middle East Peace), an umbrella of over 170 organizations in the Israel-Palestine peacebuilding community. Among other activities, we partipated in advocacy/lobbying efforts in Washington, DC in March to encourage US Congress to double its financial support for Israeli-Palestinian people-to-people programs via USAID (United States Agency for International
      Development).
    • We are forming partnerships with like-minded organizations to pool resources and find the best ways to help each other and prevent duplication of effort.
    • As part of ALLMEP, we are working on a plan for provision of psychosocial support to our participants.
  • With the aid of an experienced consultant, STEP has re-started its strategic planning for growth over the next 3-5 years. This planning will incorporate ways to continue functioning in the current climate.

FACULTY

  • STEP Faculty assure us they are creating a “safe” environment for researchers to work together. They literally go the extra mile. For example, one professor drives his Palestinian student to and from campus (she is afraid of violence on public transportation); another professor has found housing for a Palestinian student in an Israeli home. STEP Faculty are agents of change.

STUDENTS

  • Even though they are shaken, STEP Fellows and faculty arrive to campus – many of them daily — to work together, finding solace and camaraderie in advancing science and health. They are investigating aspects of cancer, water desalination, retinal disease, male infertility and malaria. The lab, they tell us, is not as polarizing as the outside world.One of our newest Fellows had this to say:
    “ First of all, I think it’s the science. What’s beautiful in this world is that we are doing it for a greater cause. We come neutral to the lab and we work together to achieve results and to learn. We don’t speak about politics. We share more and have more in common outside of politics. We speak about faith. We speak about every topic with an open mind. We don’t find it hard. Eventually, even if we think differently, it’s about the person, the individual. We have a great relationship.”
  • Some STEP Fellows are continuing their community outreach projects together. For example, one pair of Fellows volunteers on a regular basis at a local hospital for Jewish and Arab children with cerebral palsy.
  • Two pairs of STEP Fellows have been invited to present (together!) at international conferences. They are awaiting visas.