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Israeli society is deeply divided along the lines of a Jewish majority and an Arab minority (21%). The division between these populations is reflected in nearly all economic, political, and social aspects of daily life. The ongoing socioeconomic and cultural discrimination of Israel’s Arab minority and the growing alienation between Jewish and Arab populations are cited as some of the most serious threats to the future of Israel as a democratic state.
Discrimination and alienation have led to mutual mistrust and hostility between Jews and Arabs, translating into increased racism, extremism, and violence in recent years. Mistrust and hostility have only increased as any attempts to resolve the larger Arab-Israeli conflict have remained stagnant in recent years.
The combination of mutual mistrust and the lack of progress in resolving the conflict have legitimated overt expressions of animosity and institutionalized discrimination. Legislation such as the Nation-State Law, asserting Jewish supremacy, demonstrates this, as have ensuing racist attacks and attitudes. Recent surveys confirm the Jewish-Arab tensions as the most severe friction in society.
Young people can be identified as central actors in this conflict. They are known to be the most vulnerable to extreme influences and subject to incitement. The most recent renewal of violence, still fresh in everyone’s memory, was mainly characterized by the involvement of ever-younger antagonists.
Young Jews and Arabs grow up with segregated school systems and limited social interaction. They rely on separation rather than dialogue and cooperation as a solution for increasing personal security, with Arab youth feeling increasingly alienated and marginalized. Current conflict trends can be perpetuated or transformed through the next generation of citizens and leaders.
Participant drawings of the future they wanted to create together
Why are these programs important?
In 2016, the State Comptroller dedicated a special report on Education for a Shared Society and Prevention of Racism, and has followed the situation since that time. The Comptroller's report in May 2021 indicated a lack of such programming, which contributed to youth involvement in the civil unrest of May 2021. Givat Haviva and other civil society organizations worked with the Ministry of Education for several months to bring recommendations that would strengthen education for a shared life.
Recommendations to the Ministry of Education were: to establish education for shared life beginning as early as preschool, to foster both Arabic and Hebrew studies throughout the entire education system, to train teachers for education for shared life, to ensure standards for the concentration of the subject, and to allocate government funds to education for a shared society.
Our programs have impacted policy and provided a resource for the Ministry of Education in response to the State Comptroller’s report. The ministry subsequently sought our expertise and effective programs and encourages schools to engage teachers and students in our programs.
Due to a change in policy for the 2022-2023 academic year, the Ministry of Education has transferred funding for Education for partnership, tolerance, and solidarity based on a sense of belonging to the Israeli community and Israeli society directly to the schools. We are currently inundated with program requests and cannot meet the needs of schools. The current system requires us to contribute additional funding to programming on behalf of the schools.
What are the programs we offer?
Givat Haviva has developed a comprehensive educational program for Jewish and Arab students that fosters learning and understanding and imparts tools to promote a shared society in Israel. Implemented within and alongside the formal education system, Givat Haviva's programs utilize informal peace education approaches, focusing on experiential education, Jewish-Arab encounters, dialogue, culture, arts, and joint activity. Givat Haviva aims to reach students throughout their educational lifecycle, starting in elementary school and continuing through high school. The programs create opportunities for repeated encounters and personal development among Arab and Jewish young people – laying the foundations for a shared, democratic future for Israeli society.
Elementary School: Active Education for the Environment brings 6th-graders from neighboring Arab and Jewish communities into an active educational project that promotes a culture of sustainability and shared community through experience. Youth participate in a series of four uni-national sessions and four bi-national encounters. The uni-national sessions prepare the children for the encounters and help them positively and productively process them. The groups meet bi-weekly for three-hour sessions. The four uni-national sessions occur in each school, while the bi-national sessions occur at Givat Haviva. The program culminates in a final event with the participation of students and families.
Programming 2022 – 2023
Number of classes: 8 (4 Jewish classes and 4 Arab classes)
Number of youth participants: 240 (120 Jewish youth and 120 Arab youth)
Middle School: Children Teaching Children is a two-year civics study and encounter program that is part of the formal and informal curriculum in Arab and Jewish schools. Participants grapple with the complex issues of national and individual identity, community life, and conflicting narratives in a shared land. Uni-national sessions are held once a week for two hours, and approximately 25 uni-national sessions occur each year. After several weeks of uni-national sessions, the participating classes begin a series of three bi-national encounters with their partner class.
Programming 2022 – 2023
Number of classes: 18 (9 Jewish classes and 9 Arab classes)
Number of youth participants: 540 (270 Jewish youth and 270 Arab youth)
Middle School: Partnership and Belonging was born from the 22-year success story of our encounter programs. Experience showed us that middle school students struggle with questions of identity and belonging in a divided society. We designed a program that introduces children, in a lighter, playful way, to the diversity of Israeli society, the different narratives, and the issue of (in)equality and discrimination in five sessions. In the uni-national session, they explore their identity, feelings, and stereotypes towards the other side, laying the foundation for the following bi-national encounter at Givat Haviva. The following two sessions deepen the encounter as they visit each other’s schools and are exposed to each other’s lived realities. The last meeting at Givat Haviva will help the children to process their experience getting to know peers from the other side of society and understand their role in fighting the creation of harmful stereotypes.
Programming 2022 – 2023
Number of classes: 14 (7 Jewish classes and 7 Arab classes)
Number of youth participants: 420 (200 Jewish youth and 200 Arab youth)
High School: Face-to-Face is an encounter program through a series of workshops designed to create a greater understanding of one another, reduce feelings of fear and hatred, and forge a preliminary basis for creating a joint future based on mutual respect. The program is designed for older students, and the encounters include intensive and substantive dialogue sessions that dive into controversial topics at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The program is an intensive two-day seminar composed of interactive workshops for mixed groups with joint facilitation (a Jewish facilitator and an Arab facilitator for each group). It also includes a joint cultural evening and social activities. Before the encounter, the students undergo a uni-national preparation at their respective schools. The students participate in a workshop following the encounter to process the experience. The teachers also participate in a half-day preparatory program in the school and a mini-workshop during the students’ encounters.
Programming 2022 – 2023
Number of youth participants: 2000 (1000 Jewish youth and 1000 Arab youth)
Ms. Dikla Tomer, Director of Education
Dikla has a master's degree in organizational consulting and experience guiding and leading work teams at various levels, emphasizing multicultural education and cultural competence. As the educational director, Dikla works with principals, teachers, and students and is responsible for the development of programs and joint facilitation of teacher training and management, and planning and monitoring budget implementation.
Education for a shared society
A comprehensive program for Jewish and Arab students throughout the educational lifecycle