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Givat Haviva's December 2023 Newsletter: Reflecting on the Past Year and Looking Ahead to 2024

Givat haviva's logo, light green on dark blue background

Givat Haviva's Emergency Shared Society Conference Scheduled for January 9th

8:30 am -2 pm Yitzhak Rabin Center, Tel Aviv


A message from Michal Sella, CEO

Dear Friends,

As we enter 2024, none of us could have anticipated the current situation on the ground. 2023 was a year of tremendous suffering due to a devastating war, with hundreds of citizens enduring unimaginable hardship.

The first nine months of 2023 were dominated by a historic civil struggle against the government attempting to dismantle our democratic state. Hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens took to the streets to defend the Supreme Court and our democratic system. Every day, Arab society suffers from disastrous levels of crime and violence— but it never makes the front page. All of this occurred under a government that not only failed to address these crises but, at times, fueled them. It was a year in which we increased our active civic education, understanding that we must use democratic action to demand a fairer state.

Then came October 7th—a day when our assumptions of security collapsed before us. Within hours, we shifted from fighting for our democracy to fighting for our lives. It became evident that the state, in part, had collapsed on its citizens, leaving them abandoned.

From the outset, we recognized the profound repercussions of October 7th and their impact on Jewish-Arab relations within Israel. Despite Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel being in the same boat during that Saturday in the Western Negev, a deep divide of fear and pain emerged between the two communities. In the aftermath, Arab citizens feared going to work, while Jewish citizens hesitated to encounter their Arab counterparts or even see them on the streets. Amidst these tensions, politicians warned of internal violence—a fear that never materialized.

Thankfully, the majority in both communities understood that internal violence would be the most devastating outcome. At Givat Haviva, despite our anger, fear, and pain, we felt a deep sense of responsibility. We housed displaced families from the South and North at our shared campus. We continued programs fostering peace and cooperation, and increased support for our mission of a joint Jewish-Arab society. This vision of a shared future kept us going during these difficult times. We brought Jewish and Arab educators together, offering them a platform to envision an educational path for a more just and equitable future. All of this work is being done while fighting against extreme forces seeking to embitter our lives and push us into civil turmoil.

2023 will be forever remembered as a year that irreversibly altered Israel. I hope 2023 will also be remembered as a turning point, shifting us toward personal and social security, equality, and peace.

In 2024, we are kickstarting the year with an emergency conference for a shared society scheduled for January 9th at the Rabin Center. Leaders in politics, business, and education will convene to discuss advancing partnership, equality, and inclusion between Jews and Arabs, especially amidst these challenging times. We invite you to join us in this crucial dialogue.

Michal Sella

Executive Director

מיכל סלע מנכ"לית

ميخال سيلع مديرة عامة


Givat Haviva's Emergency Shared Society Conference

The Givat Haviva Conference for a Shared Society is convening on January 9 th as an urgent summit, with the distinguished presence of President Isaac Herzog. The mission of this event is to ensure the safeguarding of our shared social, economic, and civic foundations. Conversations will address the role of political, economic, academic/educational, and social leadership during periods of tension. Participants will explore pathways to advance the vision of a cohesive society and develop tools for fostering positive leadership in Jewish-Arab relations in Israel.

For the conference schedule and registration, visit the links above to secure your spot and access the conference live stream.


Givat Haviva 2023 recap

As we embark on this new year, we pause to reflect on the past year with its crises and accomplishments and plan our next steps with renewed determination toward building a shared, fair, and democratic society.

May this year bring healing, peace, and tranquility to all!


December Highlights

Around 35 People seated in chairs in a meeting room

Addressing the Job Market Amidst Conflict: A dedicated learning day for employment promoters in Arab society.

Organized by the Jewish-Arab Center at Givat Haviva in collaboration with The Joint, top professionals, organizations, government agencies, and employment advocates convened for a learning day to provide guidance and a space for innovative collaboration among groups involved in promoting employment opportunities in Arab society.

For more insights from the conference (In Hebrew):


Around 25 people standing in the hall of the art gallery, beneath the top photo is a photo of one of the exhibits, a candle on a covered table

"B'Aot BeDvarim" Exhibition at Givat Haviva Gallery

An exhibition named 'B'Aot BeDvarim' ('Coming to Terms') opened last Saturday at the gallery and shared art center at Givat Haviva. The exhibition showcased the works of Sigalit Landau and Manar Zuabi, alongside four talented young artists: Dala Turbia, Leila Abdelrazzaq, Morgana Ganeim, and Shams Hawari Zuabi.

Explore more about the exhibition by clicking here.

The exhibition concludes on March 16, 2024.

Visiting Hours: Sunday to Thursday - 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM | Friday - 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM | Saturday - 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM


Top: Michal Sella in a grey blazer and white shirt standing at a podium speaking, Bottom: Dikla Tomer Kayal and Ihab Haskiya both in dark shirts at the podium

30 Years of Meaningful Partnership

This month, we celebrated a significant milestone—30 years of a strong partnership between Givat Haviva and the State of Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany. At the celebratory event, Michal Sela, CEO of Givat Haviva, Dikla Tomer Kayal, Director of the Education Department at the Jewish-Arab Center, and Ihab Haskiya, an experienced facilitator in the center's dialogue programs, proudly represented us.

We take pride in these meaningful relationships and eagerly anticipate many more years of partnership.


A collage of people sitting, standing, and speaking with one another in a meeting room

Partnership Guards: Launching a Network of 11 Emergency Headquarters 

In recent months, we've been collaborating with the Abraham Initiatives and Centers for Social Justice to establish dedicated emergency headquarters for mixed areas. These teams are geared towards swiftly addressing crises that threaten the delicate relations between Jews and Arabs, and maintaining harmony between both groups.

Following the aftermath of the devastating war, the urgency to activate these teams became evident. In a seminar held this month at Givat Haviva, coordinators, community workers, and field personnel from the 11 teams engaged in a unique training process to tackle their mission effectively.


Teachers from the Shared Language program standing in a circle and smiling at the camera as they hold hands in the middle of a circle during a group activity

Shared Language: ‘Partners for the Road" Training with 60 Teachers

Since the beginning of the war, two meetings have taken place between the Shared Language program's teachers and their mentors in Arab schools. Here are excerpts from the heartwarming responses shared by the participants in the meeting:

- "This meeting strengthens me, helping me see clearly why I chose this work."

- "These meetings are a gift, steps in a process of change within a complex reality."

- "I was initially afraid to return to school when the war began, but after I returned, I realized that unity helps me feel calmer and safer upon my return."

Here's a glimpse of the impactful work of teacher Iris Elkaḥar at the Tahasūsin school: click here.


Honoring Longtime Supporter Herbert Gold

A black and white photo of Herb Gold in his later years, wearing a black sweater and up to the left, past the camera

We pay tribute to Herbert Gold, a longtime supporter of Friends of Givat Haviva, who passed away in November. His unwavering support has had a tremendous impact starting in the early 90s. We commemorate his legacy and celebrate his enduring commitment to building a shared society in Israel.

Herb was a renowned writer; in his novels, essays, and memoirs, he captured the intricacies of ordinary lives against the backdrop of an evolving American landscape. His wit, astute observations, and poignant storytelling illuminated the challenges of love, identity, and the pursuit of self-discovery, resonating deeply with readers across generations.

Herb was always a delight to speak with on the phone and will be missed by the Givat Haviva team. You can read more about his life and work at the link below.


As always, we want to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped us by donating, liking, sharing our Facebook posts, and sending our updates to friends and family. Your support is greatly appreciated and needed as we work towards a more peaceful future.


Sadie Baker-Wacks

Development Coordinator

(212) 989-9272 (ext. 3)


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