Since the launch of the Programme in 2004 the Olive Tree has made its name as a unique initiative for Palestinian and Israeli undergraduates at City University that enables them to better understand the drivers of the conflict that has shaped their lives and prospects in the Middle East.
We must regretfully acknowledge, however, that it will not be possible to continue the Programme in its present form, as of the graduation of the students currently in receipt of Olive Tree scholarships in summer 2016.
Since its inception, the Programme has benefited from the support and encouragement of many well-wishers and sponsors. The necessity to discontinue the programme in its present form essentially derives from financial constraints, including rising costs and increased calls on philanthropic giving. Nonetheless our supporters can be proud of what has been achieved since 2004.
With this in mind, plans are in place to build on the achievements of the Programme over the past decade and undertake new research on the lessons to be learned about the factors which sustain, ameliorate and/or mediate conflicts in general. The intention is to involve the many alumni of the programme in this endeavour and thereby help to sustain and support them in their various efforts to counter the negative effects on their respective communities of the on-going conflict.
Of the 48 Palestinians and Israelis who have graduated to date, the majority achieved high marks in their degrees; several have won further scholarships to undertake postgraduate study, including some at City; others have won graduate placements in business and finance; and yet others have become skilled professionals and prominent figures in their communities. Several have become successful journalists with media organisations broadcasting in Arabic, Hebrew and English.
The ten students enrolled in the Programme last year bring to 58 the total number of candidates to be awarded scholarships since 2004. As they progress toward completion of their degrees in 2016 the Olive Tree activities will continue as hitherto, including regular meetings of the Middle East Forum about which you can learn more on these pages.
A New Focus - Olive Tree Research Project
The new plan is designed to capitalise on the unique resource of research material and expertise that has been accumulated since 2004. Thus, as of 2016, when the fifth cohort of scholarship students are due to graduate, the intention is to switch from the current focus on undergraduate education and dialogue to pursue research that engages Olive Tree alumni, policy practitioners, academics and professional staff at City and beyond and which will identify, record and disseminate the findings of over a decade of the Olive Tree endeavour. Work on the design of the new research project is already underway and we shall update you here as this proceeds.