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Highlights from Givat Haviva's Conference: Shared Society in Times of Emergency

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Join us for an in-depth briefing about the conference and the survey on Jewish-Arab relations on January 21 at 1:30 pm Eastern Time


Dear Friends,

Givat Haviva held its annual conference last week entitled "Shared Society in Times of Emergency,” on January 9th. According to observers it was the most remarkable of Givat Haviva’s conferences. The presence of President Hertzog and Cabinet member Benny Gantz along with Givat Haviva’s leadership and numerous top community and business leaders made it a particularly momentous event, as well as the news coverage it received on many sites. It had more attendees than previous conferences- a testament to the readiness of participants from varied communities to clarify and redefine the work ahead, and of the importance of gathering in community at this critical moment to do so.

At our conferences, we normally summarize the past year’s activities and set goals for the coming year. However, the war that was triggered on October 7 and the fear of escalation and rupture of the fabric of relations between Jews and Arabs in the country, forced us to act differently and with extreme urgency. We moved up the date of the conference and took a sober look at reality to see how, despite the rupture, a stronger shared society can be established. Emerging from the shock, we strived to present opportunities to improve the situation in Israel and not surrender to those who would harm us and rob us of the hope of living together. 

We are sharing some highlights from the conference, and the findings of the annual survey on Jewish-Arab relations presented there. Below, you will also find a link to our upcoming briefing, where we will discuss the conference and survey more in-depth.


President's Address

Yitzak Herzog, President of the State

In his keynote address at the conference, the president emphasized, "We insist on rebuilding the alliance and the covenant. Where Hamas sought destruction and devastation, we insist on rebuilding together the Israeli home for all of us. Where it sought fear and despair, we choose hope and deep faith in shared life….The fact that shared life continues is the overwhelming response to the blind hatred we encountered on October 7." The president emphasized that despite the long and difficult road to narrowing the gaps and achieving a full sense of belonging, he is fully committed to a shared society, considering it an obligation of the State of Israel to all its citizens.


Opening Speeches

Benny Gantz standing behind a mic at a podium with givat haviva logos on the blue wall behind him

Benny Gantz, Minister of Defense

Cabinet member Gantz emphasized Israeli “togetherness” and the importance of shared society, shared language, and shared studies for strengthening Israel. We need to work together to create true equality. “Togetherness isn’t just a matter of words, we have to fill it with practical content: equal employment, a shared education system, Arabic and Hebrew language studies, a united war on crime and violence.” He concluded that, “Togetherness means recognizing equality as a value enshrined in law.”

Michal Sella standing behind a mic at a podium with givat haviva logos on the blue wall behind him

Michal Sella, CEO of Givat Haviva

In her opening remarks, Sella spoke of the inevitable fate of the covenant between Jews and Arabs in Israel, forged on October 7. She compared the attempts of senior government officials to incite violence with the responsible actions taken by local and national Arab leadership in maintaining calm. She sent a clear message to extremists and those advocating for civil war, stating that their policy of incitement has failed.

Mohammad Darawshe standing behind a mic at a podium with givat haviva logos on the blue wall behind him

Mohammad Darawshe, Head of Strategy at Givat Haviva

In his speech, Darawshe emphasized the importance of civic cooperation, stating that civil and business leadership are the keys to meaningful social change, even more than political leadership. He highlighted the immediate need for steps to reduce tension, such as providing housing for Arab students and returning Arab workers to their workplaces.

Steffen Seibert standing behind a mic at a podium with givat haviva logos on the blue wall behind him

Steffen Seibert, German Ambassador to Israel

In his opening remarks, the ambassador recalled the shared society initiatives he witnessed during his visit to Givat Haviva two months ago and expressed hope for continued progress. He concluded that such initiatives represent a ray of light for the future of Israel.


One-on-one interviews with distinguished participants

Moshe Arbel sitting with a microphoe inn nhis right hand looking left of center to the journalist interviewing him

Moshe Arbel, Minister of the Interior

In an interview with journalist Tal Schneider, Arbel stressed the humanist values that inform his views on shared society in Israel. “When you talk about it equality, it’s not only in regard to application of force, it’s also a matter of the service citizens receive, being seen as equal, as a fellow human.” “My vision for the Jewish state sees all people equally. A Jewish state based on love for humanity. Despite populist attitudes, most Israeli people look for what unites rather than what divides. We can’t let the extremists have too much weight.”

Mansour Avbas speaking with lior Kinnan. Both are stitting with microphones in their hands and the wall behind them has the title of the conference and Givat Haviva's logo

Mansour Abbas, Head of the Ra'am Party

In an interview with journalist Lior Kinnan, MK Abbas stated that the reality of relations between Jews and Arabs is stronger than expected despite the terrorist attack on October 7. Regarding the day after, MK Abbas expressed his willingness to be part of a broad government working for the benefit of all Israeli citizens. He emphasized the need for a government that works for the good of all citizens, promoting national recovery.

Professor Mona Khoury-Kassabri sitting with. a microphoe in her hand facing left

Professor Mona Khoury-Kassabri, VP of Hebrew University for Strategy and Diversity

In an interview with journalist Zohir Bahloul, Prof. Khoury-Kassabri emphasized the need for academia to protect freedom of expression and criticized university leaders who dismissed faculty and students. She urged leaders to reconsider their decisions.


Presentation of an exclusive survey for Givat Haviva's conference

A new survey by the Midgam Institute, led by Mano Geva, reveals an issue of concern: Since the October 7 war, 77% of Jews and 62% of Arab Israelis report feeling a decrease in personal security.

Despite these challenging findings, the survey also identifies a glimmer of hope: Natural destinations like workplaces and schools are fostering stronger connections between communities.

To take a deeper look into these results and their implications, please join us for a special briefing on Sunday, January 21st, 2024, at 1:30 PM Eastern Time. In this session, Mr. Geva will present the full survey data, followed by insights from Michal Sella (CEO) and Mohammad Darawshe (Head of Strategy), who will also share key takeaways from Givat Haviva's Shared Society conference.

Meeting details:

Date: Sunday, January 21st, 2024

Time: 1:30 PM Eastern Time

Please share the registration link with your network to spread the word about this event!


Responses to the survey by leading experts

Dr. Nasreen Haddad Haj-Yahya standing behind a podium with a mic, givat haviva's logo is on the wall behind her

Dr. Nasreen Haddad Haj-Yahya, partner at the Portland Foundation and a founding partner in the NAS company

Dr. Haj-Yahya said, “I remind all of us that behind the numbers, there are people, there is a connection, and there are two peoples. If the presented numbers indicate something, they reflect how the majority perceives us. After 75 years, we are still perceived as guests in our homeland.” She spoke on the issue of national identity versus civic identity, the economic implications of the data on Arab society, and the political partnership crisis with Jewish society.

Yuli Tamir facing the left standing behind a podium with a mic

Professor Yuli Tamir, President of Beit Berl Academic College and former Minister of Education

Tamir said, 'No one is leaving here; everyone wants to preserve their identity, but in order for us to live together, we all need to be able to listen more to each other's pain.'


Panels on contemporary Jewish-Arab relations in the workplace and education

Economics and Employment

The panel, led by Dr. Micky Feld, included participation from Prof. Suleiman Zarka, Director of Ziv Medical Center; Shulamit Garis, CEO of the Bank of Israel; technological entrepreneur Reem Yones; and Adi Thani, CEO of Meta Israel.

The panel examined contemporary barriers to healthy and shared relationships in the labor market and the economy. Attendees witnessed a moving discussion between Reem Younes and Adi Thani, who expressed the longing we all share to feel at home here.

Education and Academia 

The panel addressed issues of common education, freedom of expression in academia, and more. Participants in the panel included Prof. Adi Shtern, President of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem; Yuval Devir, Director of the International School in Givat Haviva; Dr. Sana Abu Arabiya, Head of the Arab Society Department at the Yad Hanadiv Foundation; and Meir Bing, CEO of the Ministry of Social Equality.


As always, thank you for 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)

Supporting a Shared Society in Israel

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