August 2023 Newsletter
A message from CEO Michal Sella:
The past two weeks of July have been some of the most turbulent times we have ever experienced in Israel, with significant political unrest. For the liberal Jewish community here, the protests have been overwhelming, particularly after the Knesset passed legislation that would limit the Israeli Supreme Court’s ability to review the “reasonableness” of government decisions. The demonstrations, human roadblocks, and police violence have reached unprecedented levels.
This is a crucial moment for us to pause and recognize that the treatment the protesters are facing is unfortunately what the Arab community in Israel has endured for years. The attitudes of police and authorities, the unlawful dispersal methods, and outright violence have long been a norm for Arab Israelis. It has taken decades for this reality to reach the Jewish middle class, which is unaccustomed to such treatment.
Now, we have witnessed the true motives behind the recent efforts to weaken the judiciary. From our perspective, one of the main goals of this administration is to undermine the political power of the Arab public in Israel and the Jewish-Arab communities advocating for an equal, shared society. Immediately after the cancellation of the reasonability clause, political leaders resubmitted a bill that would make the elections committee decisions final and unappealable to the courts. This means that the elections committee, which has historically disqualified Arab parties and candidates in almost every election, will have the final say, without any possibility of court intervention. Until now, the decisions that interfere with the right of the Arab public to representation have primarily been overruled by the court.
The repercussions of the recent legislation are alarming, and as we had anticipated, the Arab public, although not actively participating in the protests against changes in the judiciary process for various reasons, is about to become the first and most significant victim. The realization of this danger has led the Arab leadership to consider how they can protest in a way that will be beneficial to them. Additionally, there is a growing need to involve the Jewish public in addressing the government's perceived helplessness in handling crime and civil unrest in Arab society.
We firmly believe that both movements should be united. In a well-functioning democracy, the same public which awakened and took a political stand would not ignore a fifth of the population that lives under unchecked civil terror. The calls for equality in Israel cannot only call for equality in bearing the burden of military service, but above all, for equality under the law and the protection of basic civil rights.
Givat Haviva stands between two worlds. We can be the bridge. We work with local authorities' leadership such as mayors and department leaders, as well as principals and teachers, parents, and students from both societies. We are aware, as a Jewish-Arab organization, of the daily challenges faced by members of both societies. We are attuned to the Jewish protest discourse, as well as the Arab discourse demanding immediate and urgent action against violence. We understand that the actions against the judiciary, which many Israelis see as a coup, will adversely affect the Arab population.
As an educational organization, we strive to teach the future citizens of Israel, Jews, and Arabs. Our goal is to foster an understanding of their own societies, the essence of living in a democracy, and equip them with the tools to repair it gradually. Today, we find ourselves struggling to preserve a democratic space for the next generations to live and thrive together harmoniously.
If it is true that every crisis is an opportunity, then we are at the threshold of one of the greatest opportunities of all time for Israeli society. This opportunity is worthy of our fighting for it – together.
מיכל סלע מנכ"לית
ميخال سيلع مديرة عامة
Our programs in numbers: summary of the 2022-2023 school year
We are proud to present the 2022-2023 stats for Givat Haviva's education programs, which ran in Israel’s public schools through the government's Gefen system. Givat Haviva, will continue to educate the children in Israel to values of equality, partnership, and democracy.
Givat Haviva In the news
Director of the Arab-Jewish Center for Peace, Ola Najimi, represented Givat Haviva, and expressed her objections to the government's proposal to reduce the budgets for the five-year plan for Arab society, and increase stipends for ultra-Orthodox Jewish men to study in yeshivas and remain unemployed. She appeared on the Knesset channel with her remarks (in Hebrew).
Givat Haviva Director of Strategy, Mohammad Darawshe was interviewed on Israeli radio responding to a series of proposed racist bills that further marginalize Arab citizens in Israel. It is a great disappointment that some of these bills have been passed and endorsed in collaboration with the Opposition.
The Procession of the Dead: Protesting the Alleged Helplessness of the State in Handling Crime and Violence in Arab Society
On Sunday, August 6, 2023, a procession departed from the public square at Habima Theater with participants dressed in white, marching towards the public square at the entrance to the Tel Aviv Museum.
It was not an ordinary protest march – it was no less than a mass funeral, protesting the state's demonstration of impotence and failure to address crime and violence in Arab society. The solemn procession moved through the streets of Tel Aviv with 130 coffins, commemorating each of the victims of murder in Arab society in the last year alone. The intention was to shock observers, but also to strike a chord of empathy and gain support from Jewish society-at-large, demanding the government to take urgent actions to address the emergency situation in Arab society.
Givat Haviva joined in this commendable initiative through the independent Arabic media portal, bokra.net, together with other activists, social organizations, and bereaved families.
Your Voice is Power (Soutk Kava) Campaign to Increase Representation of Arab Women in Local Governmen
Only 2% of the local Arab councilmembers are women. The campaign, Your Voice is Power (Soutk Kava) is a wide-reaching initiative of women's organizations, elected women officials in local authorities, and male and female activists in Arab society that works to strengthen the essential representation of Arab women in local government.
With municipal elections on the horizon for October, representation of Arab women in Arab localities faces a chance of being improved if the Your Voice is Power campaign is effective. The story of Tamra's Municipal Engineer, Nardin Rachal Houry, reflects the current situation. She was told, "You're a woman, and a mother. You won't be able to handle public office." Rim Zarik, a member of the local council in Ilaboun was told, "You don't have connections." Nevertheless, these women were not deterred from running for office or submitting candidacy for senior positions in local government. Above all, they were not deterred from doing a great job for the women and the community-at-large in their towns.
Things must change in the next elections.
Givat Haviva joined this important coalition, which also trains and supports candidates and increases public awareness. Givat Haviva believes that the power and influence of women must be brought to the center of public action and decision-making.
Click here to view a video from the campaign (in Arabic)
Refreshing Summer News: Our Youth are Spreading Hope in the World
Participants in Through Others' Eyes landed in Germany last week for an educational summer camp focused on promoting democracy and partnerships among youth. The 10-day camp includes participants from Germany, the Czech Republic, and Israel, where the Arab and Jewish participants in Through Others' Eyes will present their new exhibit.
The youth delegation from the Heart to Heart program concluded its trip to a summer camp in Canada. They spent two enriching and exciting weeks of activities, having fun in the beautiful natural environment, thinking, and discussing the shared future here, for Jews and Arabs.
You make this work possible and we are so grateful for your support! Please share our posts on Facebook and LinkedIn, or forward this email to friends and family to help spread the word about this important work.
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Supporting a Shared Society in Israel