Israeli Jewish children of Palestinian origin replicate among themselves the animosity they observe in the elderly, but in reality they have more in common than they think. How to prove it? The software developer Tsahi Liberman, 42 years old and based in Haifa, created a videogame together with a group of colleagues to bring together children from both communities … and it worked.
Then they tried it on children from other war-torn areas, like Georgia or Syria … and it worked too. The UN drew attention to the project and awarded it the Prize for Intercultural Innovation. last year.
"We created a version of Minecraft with a series of missions that had to be completed collaboratively. To progress, we had to chat with the other connected players, "explains Liberman before giving a lecture at the ISDI in Madrid. The grace is that the program translated automatically from Hebrew into Arabic and vice versa, so that the children always believed they were talking to people in their community.
After the nine weeks of the game, the children were gathered at a school to meet each other. Then the sequence surprise-distrust-friendship occurs: the colleagues with whom they had spent so many hours were not match their stereotypes. "This game allows children to realize they are the same: they have the same concerns, the same habits and share many problems," says Liberman, who is especially proud that Play2talk (as the game is called) has originated friendships seemingly impossible that still exist today.
Games for Peace, the collective made up of Liberman and his colleagues, is extending its games throughout the Middle East. He does not hide his predilection for attracting younger children (under 10 years old). "The most difficult thing at these ages is to get their attention; if you succeed, you can do great things, "he says. As an example, try to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Like every Israeli engineer with a pedigree, Liberman worked for the Army, "although I never shot." He dedicates his work to peace, but he keeps his reflexes: when he enters the room he asks if a bag on the floor is ours. After answering yes, he relaxes: "This is the day to day in Israel."