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Letter from our Executive Director
Dear Friends of Givat Haviva,
A surreal reality surrounds our work. On the one hand, the sky is dark - a murderous attack in Tel Aviv was carried out by a neighbor – a resident of one of the communities that is a partner in our efforts to build a shared society in ​​Wadi Ara. The day after the attack, the Israeli Prime Minister incited against the whole of Arab society, and later in the month the Israeli government (through legislation) and the right-wing "Im Tirtzu" movement (through an attempt at “shaming"), pursued a campaign hounding the left-wing organizations and those intellectuals and cultural icons of Israel who do not share the government's views. The picture is bleak: Israel's democracy in 2016 is crippled, hurt and on the defensive. But on the other hand, our activity is only increasing. Activity on the Givat Haviva is lively – hundreds of students in Shared Society encounter programs, more than a thousand members of Hashomer Hatzair in their annual gathering at Givat Haviva engaging in youth culture, ten thousand Arab junior high school students and their dedicated instructors not missing a single class in the “Yihyeh B’seder Hebrew Enrichment Program”, and many more activities. We are part of the difficult reality, but within it we are successful not merely in continuing our activities, but even growing. This is our mission, and at a time like this it is so important to the sane future of our country, the future common to Jews and Arabs alike.
Yaniv Sagee
Executive director, Givat Haviva
January signaled a return to intense activity, as the One-Day Encounters for Shared Public Space and the Two-Day Face-to-Face Youth Dialogue Encounters resumed following the winter vacations. Hundreds of students and dozens of teachers from schools all over the country participated in encounter programs at Givat Haviva. Despite the ongoing tension in the country, the atmosphere in all the encounters was accepting, and the programs received excellent feedback from the accompanying teachers. Adnan Tarabieh, an eleventh grade teacher from Sakhnin, sent these words following his students’ experience in the Shared Public Space program:
“…... The meeting was fascinating and special for us. Distinctly pleasant feelings were palpable in the classroom during the feedback session I conducted with the students. In summing up their experience, the students expressed delight and astonishment at the high level of the activities held between the two classes, thanks to the professional guidance of the team of facilitators.
The students’ responses were highly positive, and were demonstrated by how connections were formed between students of the two schools via various media. I was also asked to organize a two-day seminar with the same students at Givat Haviva…”
On Jan 5-6, the Yihyeh B'seder Hebrew Enrichment Program for Arab Schools held a 2-day seminar at the Galil Panorama Hotel in Nazareth. The program instructors and representatives from all the participating schools (teachers and principals) attended. The seminar featured presentations on the latest social and political trends in Arab society in Israel, a workshop on creating positive dialogue in the classroom, and pedagogical and program updates. It also gave the teachers and administrators an opportunity to spend time together in a relaxed atmosphere, get to know each other, and discuss their activity. Seminar highlights included a performance by singer Maryam Tokan, as well as an unscheduled talk by veteran Yediot Aharonot journalist Nahum Barnea, who also gave the program a very positive review in his popular column.
The Forum for Deliberation on Ideological Discourse to Envision the Future of the Israeli Left held its third meeting at Givat Haviva. The theme this time was Jewish-Arab Partnership in Israel, and the topic was presented by Iman Oudeh, MK from the Joint List, and Givat Haviva executive director Yaniv Sagee.
On January 11, Givat Haviva, together with Tag Meir, a grassroots organization that works against racism in Israel, held an Emergency Conference calling for Jewish-Arab partnership and equality. The conference was dedicated to the memory of Professor Gavriel Salomon, Israel Prize laureate in education, teacher and educator, and trailblazer for peace and a shared and egalitarian society. Professor Salomon passed away exactly a week before.
About 250 people filled the hall in Givat Haviva’s "Peace Library" to capacity, young and old, Jews and Arabs, hailing from Sakhnin to Jerusalem. Speakers included Jews and Arabs from academia, national and local government, and civil society (including Tag Meir and Givat Haviva), as well as Jewish, Muslim, and Christian clergy, calling for peace and tolerance and an end to the reigning incitement.
The latest Intensive Arabic Semester course for English speakers opened, with participants from the US, the UK, Spain, and Germany. They will be living on the Givat Haviva campus, learning spoken and literary Arabic, along with lectures on the Middle East, guided viewing of films in Arabic, informative tours of the area, and cultural evenings. By the end of their five months, we expect them to be speaking fluently!
The Through Others’ Eyes program had a busy month, as this year’s participants held a two-day seminar, in which they participated in dialogue and games, and spent time getting to know each other better. Last year’s Through Other’s Eyes participants continued to meet with their counselor to plan their community outreach activities.
Tu Bishvat was celebrated at Givat Haviva despite the cold weather, with the planting of flowers along with participants in the ALUT (Israeli Society for Autistic Children) program on campus. Traditional songs and dried fruits were enjoyed by all.
On the last weekend in January, the Givat Haviva campus was filled with Hashomer Hatzair youth, who gathered for their annual national conference. The attendees came from all over the country, including Arab members, and even from around the world. As the theme of this year's conference was youth culture, and the Hashomer Hatzair youth discussed common problems in today's youth culture, such as drug and alcohol use and consumerism They also showed how youth make positive cultural contributions, by creating and sharing music and art of their own.
Copyright © 2016 Givat Haviva Israel, All rights reserved.

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