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Friends of Givat Haviva: February 2024 Newsletter

Givat Haviva's logo

A Message from CEO Michal Sella

Dear Friends,

As time passes, what was once an emergency becomes distressingly routine. Amidst the conflict, mourning, and immense civil suffering brought on by this war, life continues on. The academic year has commenced in higher education institutions, businesses are slowly resuming operations, and unfortunately, the political arena is once again focused on partisanship and taxation. 

This month, we've been confronted with a bad and dangerous state budget, marked by extensive cuts to health, welfare, and education, along with government coalition funds that will be transferred for unknown purposes. The education budget has been slashed by nearly a billion shekels, while the five-year plans for investment in Arab society have been curtailed by approximately 20%. At a time when welfare and education services are most crucially needed, and when Arab society requires investment across all facets of civil life, the government has opted for sweeping cuts. Under the guise of a state of emergency, the government has made decisions that are questionable at best and destructive at worst. 

We anticipate further cuts next year in the field of education for shared living and democracy within the Ministry of Education. On one hand, we are incessantly reminded of the importance of fostering strong relations between Jews and Arabs. On the other hand, the requisite investment to fortify these bonds and cultivate a robust shared society—one capable of ensuring personal security, equality, and a sense of belonging for all citizens—is conspicuously absent.

Amidst these challenges, there are rays of hope evident in the daily endeavors at Givat Haviva. In this update, you'll find highlights from a special conference we hosted in collaboration with Netanya College for academic and administrative staff, focusing on fostering life on a diverse campus. Additionally, our Arab-Jewish Center's teacher training courses are at full capacity, with an increasing number of educational teams turning to us for guidance on facing challenges related to democratic education and acknowledging the "other."

Furthermore, our artist residency program—the only one in Israel for Jewish and Arab artists—continues to thrive. Additionally, the International School is fully operational once again, and Arab, Jewish, and international students persist in maintaining a shared daily routine even in these tumultuous times.

We embark on this complex year with hope and energy. I hope that peace will return soon, the fighting will stop, and everyone will return home safely.

Michal Sella

Executive Director


Emergency conference, opposition to the planned cuts in the education and welfare budgets for Arab Society

Michal Sella seated speaking at a conference

The cuts in the education budget will severely damage Arab state education. Damaging the five-year investment plan for Arab society sends a painful message to Arab children: The government does not see a future for them here. This is what Michal Sella, CEO of Givat Haviva and one of the founders of the state education watchdog, said at the state education lobby's emergency conference held in January in the Knesset in response to the planned cuts.


Briefing for friends of Givat Haviva around the world

Givat Haviva’s recent online briefing dove into issues of a shared society and Jewish-Arab relations in Israel during times of crisis. Over 120 participants from the community of friends and colleagues, along with an international audience, heard a discussion of a recent survey on Jewish-Arab relations in Israel. Michal Sella, CEO of Givat Haviva, and Mohammad Darawshe, Strategy Director, explained the survey's implications and shared key conclusions from Givat Haviva's "Shared Society in Emergency" conference.



New name and branding for Givat Haviva International School

Five years have passed since we realized our dream and opened the Givat Haviva International School GHIS. After extensive reflection and observation, we decided to rebrand in a manner that authentically reflects the school's mission and ethos. The name YOUNITED encapsulates the essence of our educational model, tailored to the needs of learners from diverse backgrounds (YOU), uniting us as one community towards shared goals and mission (UNITED). We sought to refine this message, particularly at a time when youth worldwide are immersed in social media culture centered around the individual ("I"), emphasizing to our students the profound importance of recognizing the other.

Change is inevitably challenging, but we were all so excited at the event launching the new branding. Students who were involved in the process immediately resonated with the visual identity and the new slogan—All Voices, One Vision. Enjoy the brief branding video.


News from the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace

Attendees seated and looking towards a stage in an auditorium

A learning day for academic staff at Netanya College  

"A diverse campus in a time of crisis"

During the war, tensions between Jews and Arabs escalated even within higher education institutions—the very spaces meant for meeting, connecting, and bridging divides between young people from both communities. With the school year underway, the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace swiftly moved to foster an inclusive and diverse academic environment for all students.

Earlier this month, a unique learning day titled "A Diverse Campus in a Time of Crisis" was held for academic staff at Netanya College. In partnership with the college and the Seif Division of the police, enthusiastic faculty members attended lectures and workshops that yielded valuable insights and equipped them with practical tools to effectively address the latest challenges.


Around 25 teens and adults sit in chairs in a circle chatting

Through Others' Eyes program update

Cycle 24: A New Beginning

In a celebratory gathering with parents, the 24th cycle of our longstanding photography program commenced, where Jewish and Arab youths use the camera as a tool for expression, understanding, and reconciliation. This month, 20 Jewish and Arab students from the 10th grade began their journey. They will not only learn the fundamentals of photography but also explore the meaning of shared society in Israel through activities, meetings, seminars, and travel across the country.

An exhibition showcasing the students' photographs will be held in early July, followed by a trip to Germany to present the exhibition. We wish our students great success and eagerly await the results!

Check out the recent report for last year's program on our website!


Screenshot from a zoom meeting with teachers in an online training

Partnership in times of crisis  

Online training for teachers

Eighty-five teachers participated in the first online training session titled "Partnership in Times of Crisis," offering essential tools and support. The training featured inspiring lectures addressing various topics such as conflict management, psychological and sociological processes during crises, broadening perspectives on the other, and fostering personal coping mechanisms. Participants also engaged in sessions focused on creating safe spaces and managing complex discourse in classroom settings.


20 adults seated in chairs at tables in a U formation facing a wall with a slideshow projected onto it

Partnership Guardian Network  

Training day for emergency headquarters coordinators

In mid-January, 20 coordinators from the Partnership Guardian Network's emergency headquarters convened at Givat Haviva for a training day facilitated by the “aChord” Center. The training exposed participants to recent public opinion polls in mixed cities and diverse intervention approaches aimed at promoting shared living. This marks the second training session for emergency headquarters coordinators in the network, established by Givat Haviva, the Avraham Initiatives, and Centers for social justice. Spanning mixed cities and regions nationwide, the network brings together local leadership, law enforcement, and municipal authorities to coordinate actions and foster trust between Arabs and Jews at the grassroots level.


Teachers seated at tables looking at a slideshow being projected with their backs facing

More on the Partnership Guardian project:  

The Jewish-Arab emergency headquarters in the Wadi Ara area are beginning their work.

Dozens of Jewish and Arab partners from Wadi Ara gathered at Givat Haviva as part of the preparatory process for establishing a regional emergency headquarters under the "Partnership Guards" initiative. The job of the Partnership Guards is to support collaboration in mixed cities and create new programs that promote shared living and partnership between Jews and Arabs. The Wadi Ara headquarters is one of 12 centers established nationwide in mixed cities and areas. The meeting commenced with remarks by Ola Najami Yosef, director of the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace, and was led by program coordinators Yara Balaum and Maya Eldar. After an opening lecture by Shuli Dichter, a member of Kibbutz Manit and a representative of the "Nissan" center—a partner of the Van Leer Institute—participants engaged in discussions to outline joint action plans.


Joint Art Center

Poster of the Joint Art Center's new show. English and hebrew text on a mint green background that says "coming to say" and the information about the show

Artists in Residency

The AIR Givat Haviva shared artist residency program is more important than ever. Over three weeks at Givat Haviva, participants had the opportunity to bond, engage in guided discussions, learn about Givat Haviva and its vision for a shared society, and commence Arabic language instruction (for the five Jewish residents). They also enjoyed three days of art-related excursions. The program included a visit to Stav Struz Boutrous's studio for an open rehearsal of a new work exploring art creation during times of war, followed by discussions with the creator and performing dancers. The group also visited Kiryat Al-Malakah, a contemporary art venue, and the studios of multidisciplinary artist Farid Abu Shakra and emerging artist Karim Abu Shakra under the guidance of program director Dalia Manor.

For the Joint Art Center's newsletter click here


That's all for this month! Please subscribe to our mailing list if you havent already to get updates straight to your inbox.

Thank you to all our supporters who make this work possible! we are so grateful for your generosity and partnership.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to reach out to Sadie at

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