: The Story of a Virtual Multicultural Learning Community
Prof. Edna Aphek
is a multicultural country, a country made up of different
ethnic groups: many having their own culture, language and
There isn't much contact between some of the groups, especially
between the secular Jews and the ultra orthodox Jews and between
the Jewish population and the Arab population which comprises
about 1/6th of Israel's population.
The new technologies and especially the technology of on-line
computer telecommunication endow us with new tools and possibilities
for on-going multi-cultural and multi-age communication between
different ethnical groups.
The new technologies know no stigma and no prejudice and as
such easify and make possible neutral, less biased communication
between groups, which are much apart.
paper is about the creation of an ongoing learning community
Kamrat, a multicultural on-line learning community, between
two schools, in Israel, in 2000:
one Israeli Arab school (A) and the other Israeli Jewish school
The tools used for the creation of this community were two:
a closed network in Hebrew and the internet. Participants
were learners in 7-9 grade.
The project was conducted between Jan- May 2000 (with one
introductory meeting in November 1999)
The communities participating in the project, master two different
languages: the language of the Jewish Israeli community is
Hebrew, where as the language of the Arab community is Arabic.
The project was conducted in the Hebrew language, and the
Arab learners were encouraged to write some of the material
uploaded in Arabic in Hebrew letters.
Though both Arabic and Hebrew are Semitic languages, each
has its own set of characters.
The Kamrat project is my brainchild, it was carried out by
Ithamar Aphek, (my son) from the TelHi Networks in collaboration
with Ulpan Akiva, an institute famous for its struggle for
I first out lined the Kamrat project, my vision was to have
people from different backgrounds conduct an ongoing dialog
and to learn that people are people, no matter where they
come from, and what language they use or religion they hold.
It was as simple as that.
I wanted to avoid the political issue, which is very intensive
and stormy in Israel, and therefore, I was looking for neutral
content, to be researched, collected and uploaded by all the
participants in the Kamrat project.
Kamrat project centered around, "simple", "little",
ordinary human themes, objects , items, proverbs and sayings
passed from parents to children in their families and common
in each of the participating community.
Starting the project
The first step was to choose two schools to participate in
We didn't have too many to choose from as schools in Israel
and I guess in other countries as well, are over burdened
with projects. Starting an additional project was met with
some reluctance on the part of the teachers.
Finally two schools chose to participate in the Kamrat experiment:
Mushreife an Arab ( A)Israeli village in the east of Israel
and Ort Gutman, Jewish (J) Israeli in Natanya, a city in center
Israel about 100 km from Mushreife.
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