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From our Executive Director
This month Givat Haviva Executive Director Yaniv Sagee set out on a challenging trip to the US to recruit supporters and partners for Givat Haviva’s far-reaching efforts to create a Shared Society in Israel. Yaniv writes from there:
“It’s been 20 years since I taught my last history lesson as a teacher at Megiddo High. This week I went back to teach history at the Hebrew Charter High School in California. I taught two classes, one twelfth grade and one ninth grade. I discussed the Zionist and Palestinian narratives and how we can live together and build a shared future. The Minister of Education probably would not have approved the lesson contents (the forbidden word Nakba, for example), but the Jewish American youth were very interested in the history and no less in what Givat Haviva is doing today to build a future of hope and a shared society for their peers who are Jewish and Arab, Zionist and Palestinian youths living in Israel. The first days of the tour across the United States were long. Meetings with the public, foundations and universities, including a lady of 80 who still has not lost faith that we can repair the world and is excited by Givat Haviva’s work. The tour has been busy, full of activity, excitement, and hope to strengthen our work in Israel for change toward a common future.”
Yaniv Sagee
Executive Director, Givat Haviva
Youth Delegations: March brought return visits for two youth delegations from our Shared Communities partnerships. Following our delegations’ visits to Germany in October and December, sponsored by Haus am Maiberg, soziale und politische Bildung in Heppenheim near Mainz and Jugendbildungsstätte Kurt Löwenstein in the Brandenburg region, their German and Polish counterparts came for reciprocal visits to Israel. The focal topic of the delegations both here and in Germany was the issue of refugees in Europe and in Israel.
The educational program included Jewish refugees and victims and perpetrators at a visit to Yad Vashem, learning about Israel’s policy toward refugees and migrant workers at a visit to the Knesset, a visit to the Museum on the Seam in Jerusalem, hearing from refugees from Eritrea and Sudan in Israel, a lecture from Dr. Saleh Mehajne of Musmus about the issue of Palestinian refugees and the Arab-Jewish conflict, learning from the experiences of families in the area, and comparing all of this to what they learned and observed on the trip to Germany.
The students also enjoyed touring the country, visiting the Old City and Ein Karem in Jerusalem, Haifa, Nazareth, Masada and the Dead Sea, the Golan Heights, Daliyat al-Carmel, and Tel Aviv-Jaffa. While staying in the area, the visiting delegations were hosted by the students’ families from the Baka el-Garbiya-Menashe partnership and the Maale Iron-Megiddo partnership. Besides the intense learning, the members of the delegations all agreed that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and deep friendships were formed. The local delegations are already busy planning continued activities together and involving more students. Kudos to Givat Haviva’s Mara List Avner for coordinating and accompanying the delegations.
Shared Communities
In the Baka el Garbiya-Menashe partnership, the steering committee for the “Neighbors’ Path” joint bicycle-hiking path met, and the path will be funded by the Ministry of Agriculture.
As a result of the new Emek Hefer-Zemer partnership, children from Zemer joined those from Emek Hefer in the annual Emek Hefer walk, and leadership from Emek Hefer came to Zemer for a tour of business initiatives and local history.
In the Maale Iron-Megiddo partnership, a new art gallery was founded in Zalafe in a gala dedication ceremony on March 26, with artists and teachers, community members, municipal officials and representatives from Givat Haviva. The gallery has space for an exhibit and two workshops, and will provide a unique home for young and experienced artists in the area as well as a focus for Arab-Jewish collaboration.
The Art Center at Givat Haviva welcomes new director Anat Lidror. Anat grew up in Kibbutz Urim in the Negev, where she absorbed kibbutz values, including nature, community, and shared society. She studied psychology and attended the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem where she studied art, photography, and architecture. Since then she worked independently, building programs that incorporate processes of self-development and creativity, incorporating art, movement, and music. Anat says, “I’m very glad to be entering the area of Jewish-Arab shared living, and I have a lot of passion to learn and to focus significant activity of the Art Center in this field. I want to bring the Art Center up to date in terms of visibility, marketing, internet; to offer more and more art content within the context of the different programs here at Givat Haviva, the Shared Communities, and the general public; to bring the content out to the villages and neighborhoods and eventually widen the circle to the whole country. I believe in regarding art in the broad sense of including theater, music, poetry, movement, and interdisciplinary arts, along with broadening the general perception of art and culture.” We wish Anat much success in implementing her vision!
The semester long Arabic Language course came to an end. Among the student’s comments:
“The teacher changed the stereotypical attitude that I had toward Arabs; she showed me that women in hijab are just like everyone else, they want peace and calm in their lives.”
“During the course I got to meet a number of Arab religious figures, priests and imams, from different sects: Ahmadi, Bahai, Bedouin, Druze, Christian, Muslim, Circassian. We learned a lot from them and were impressed by what they had to say, and understood that all the religions and their branches aspire to the same ideals: to be a good person, to care for the weak, to lead communities, and to live in peace.”
“From everything we saw I learned to understand Arab society in Israel. In the course we gained a perspective on the society that made me feel like we were sitting at a Friday evening dinner discussing current events in the country.”
On March 19, alumni of the Heart to Heart Program met for a reunion to mark 5 years of the program’s operation. Each year, Heart to Heart sends a delegation of Jewish and Arab middle school alumni of the Children Teaching Children Program for a summer camp experience at Camp Shomria in Ontario, Canada. 120 alumni and parents attended the reunion, along with Danny Melamed and Jenny Isaacs from Canada. The alumni spoke of the powerful and meaningful experience in the program, and its influence on who they are today, on their opinions and their commitment to work to promote shared living, and their parents expressed a desire for continuing discussion, dialogue, and joint activities with Givat Haviva’s leadership.
Meanwhile all of Givat Haviva’s other educational programs continued in full swing. Jewish and Arab students continued to meet, learn together, and get to know each other in one and two-day Youth Encounters, the Regional Joint Learning Project, and of course Children Teaching Children. Preliminary meetings are also taking place to prepare for new joint learning projects next year in Zemer and Emek Hefer and in elementary schools in Megiddo and Maale Iron.
In wake of final approval from the Ministry of Education to expand to all educational districts nationwide, the Hebrew Language Enrichment Program for Arab Schools, Yihyeh B’seder embarked on a massive recruitment program for teachers across the country. If you know any native Hebrew speaking certified teachers in Israel who want to make a meaningful and significant contribution teaching Hebrew language and culture in Arab middle schools, now is the time!
Copyright © 2016 Givat Haviva Israel, All rights reserved.

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