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From our Executive Director
As we sit around the seder table and consider our liberty, the question arises: Are we truly free? The query is a common subject of contemplation. It would seem that we have our own independent country, and are masters of our own destiny. But in actuality, I feel we are bound by the fetters of racism and hate, which prevent us from being, in the words of our national anthem, a free people in our own land.
Racism and violence have grown so common that they have become normal. We have almost forgotten what a normal society looks like. Thus, a soldier who shoots a terrorist who has been neutralized – while the whole chain of command from the company commander to the Chief of Staff state that he committed an unacceptable act – becomes a “hero.”
But this insanity that is not the exclusive domain of one side of the political map. Two hundred years ago, Samuel Johnson already said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Thus in Israel of 2016, patriotism, built on racism, is the last refuge of those who seek the approval of the masses, whose heart is poisoned by hate for Arabs. What began on the eve of elections with a hysterical prime minister who let loose his racism in order to win the elections, continued with the leader of the opposition, who in his own fight for political survival, connected with the crazed mob in the square.
Racism and violence have a price, and that price is everyone’s liberty. Democracy is a delicate and fragile tissue, and when one part is damaged, the rest unravels. There cannot be a state, although many are under this delusion, that is free and democratic for Jews, but oppressive and aggressive toward all others. We will discover very quickly that the same violence is directed toward all citizens, but we will discover this the hard way, and only when it is too late.
A free country is a country that contains a multiplicity of opinions. It is a country of diverse nations and identities, all of which have their place, without demanding that any accept the narrative of the other. It is a country in which the military defines military norms, civilians define civilian norms, and leaders know how to unite and not only to divide. This is the only country for which it is worthwhile to wander forty years in the desert, the only country for which it is worth fighting.
Yaniv Sagee
Executive Director, Givat Haviva
April 17 was the official launch of our new project, “Roadmap for a Shared Society.” Leading public figures from a wide political spectrum and all sectors of Israeli society, Jewish and Arab, men and women, professionals from government, business, civil society, education, and academia, gathered for the opening session of the program. The meeting began with greetings from the program leaders from Givat Haviva, after which Professor Jay Rothman gave a workshop on “The Power of Why” to create a foundation of solidarity for the challenging work ahead. The participants will form 5 professional working groups that will meet over the coming 9 months to articulate concrete goals and measures in the areas of education, economic development, governance/local governance, land use, and cultural representation and restorative processes; topics based on the UN Millennium Development Goals. Each of these groups is led by two Champions, one Jewish and one Arab, well-known public figures with a commitment to consensus building and with knowledge of and background experience with the subject matter, who can both galvanize the work of the groups and garner public agreement. Each group is also supported by a dedicated facilitator with expertise in conflict management and knowledge of the group’s subject, and a senior researcher who provides each group with background material on their topic and on relevant previous experience, both in Israel and internationally. Following the opening workshop, the groups convened separately to hear from the researchers and begin the initial discussion.
Following the formulation of the goals, Givat Haviva will then take the resulting document for a massive campaign of public deliberation to ensure inclusivity and buy-in, followed by integration of the feedback into a final Roadmap document and a drive advocating its adoption. We thank all of our esteemed participants for their involvement, and wish them the best in this important challenge!
Professor Jay Rothman delivers his workshop on turning foci of conflict into foci for teamwork.
Mohammed Darawshe presents the launch of the Roadmap for a Shared Society.
Although Passover made April a short month, it was a busy one in Givat Haviva’s Education Department.
Curriculum development continues, presently with an emphasis on a regional geography program for our newest partnership communities of Zemer and Emek Hefer, and a program geared for kindergarteners – a new audience for us.
Twenty-two families from the Children Teaching Children program met at Givat Haviva to prepare for this summer’s Heart to Heart delegation to the Shomria summer camp in Canada. They took part in two workshops: first separately for parents and for children, and then all together. The families are from Megiddo, Maale Iron, Kafr Kara, and Baka el-Garbiya.
Preparations are also underway for the Learning Together Youth Summit that will take place at Givat Haviva on May 31, during which all 600 students participating in the program will get together to exhibit the joint learning projects they are presently working on. Students in the learning Together Program were busy this month working together, preparing their joint projects.
Members of our Curriculum Development team
Preparing for the Heart to Heart Delegation to Canada in August
Activities in our Shared Communities: The Environment forum from the Baka el-Garbiya – Menashe partnership continues work on developing the Neighbors’ Path, that will run through all the important stations, and involve the greater community and the educational system. The Art Center in Zalafe in the Megiddo – Maale Iron partnership is open to visitors and preparing for a new exhibit, and a call has gone out to fund the joint development of Wadi Miska. In the Zemer – Emek Hefer partnership, representatives of the Zemer leadership team visited the Ruppin Technological College to promote collaboration and opening of new courses and trainings for employment seekers with the goal of integrating them in the Emek Hefer Industrial Zone. Also in the Zemer – Emek Hefer partnership, junior high school prinicpals from the two communities met to build a joint activity plan based on media and live meetings for the coming year.
Executive conference at the Emek Hefer Industrial Part with participants from Zemer. Rani Idan opened the conference with the message, “Peace must begin between neighbors; we are working together on multiple levels to build a strong partnership.”
Winners of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Peace Prize Change Places for a Day
Ilan Sadeh, Head of the Menashe municipality, and Hassan Atamneh, mayor of Kafr Kara, exchanged seats for one day. In his temporary position, Ilan Sadeh held a meeting with senior municipal officials, net with citizens to offer advice, and visited a senior citizens’ home, and the joint Arab-Jewish school “Bridge Across the Wadi.”
From left to right: Ilan Sadeh, head of the Menashe municipality, and Hassan Atamneh, mayor of Kafr Kara
Participants in the Through Others’ Eyes program toured the separation wall with Givat Haviva Jewish-Arab Center for Peace Director Riad Kabha, visiting Bartaa and learning about the village and the effects of the border that divides it in two.
Copyright © 2016 Givat Haviva Israel, All rights reserved.

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