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January 2023 newsletter

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

Below is a message from Michal Sella, the CEO of Givat Haviva in Israel:

The past month has been particularly jolting after elections that severely reduced the presence of politicians who support Jewish-Arab partnership from the Knesset. This was followed by lives lost in terrorist attacks, violence against left-wing activists, Palestinians killed in the Occupied Territories, and declarations by ministers in the new government threatening the future of Israeli democracy, institutions of the law, and basic norms held by those of us committed to Shared Society and democracy.

The last elections left the highest number ever of voters finding themselves unrepresented in Israel's Knesset. It appears we also have the most extreme, right-wing government in our history. It includes groups and individuals that, until very recently, represented fringe attitudes that were dismissed in the political arena. Now, these politicians will be at the helm of government ministries presiding over an already fragile Israeli society.

The appointment of Ben Gvir as Minister of National Security (formerly known as the Ministry of Public Security) is a slap in the face to Palestinian citizens of Israel facing an increasingly serious crisis of violence in their communities. This appointment threatens the everyday safety of one-fifth of the population. This is a threat that Israeli Jews need to stand up against to prevent the deterioration of Jewish-Arab relations.

That said, there is a reality that remains in place, and our lives are larger than politics. Hundreds of educators and players working to strengthen and improve our democracy still get up to do just that every morning. At the end of November, we opened a prestigious, new artists' residency program for young Jewish and Arab artists, recent graduates of leading art institutes, who will live and create together for three months. Demand for our educational encounters programs is growing, and our other programs continue to provide opportunities and leadership for a better reality.

We will continue to believe and make a concerted effort to promote a more equitable, just, and Shared Society. Please read below about some of the latest developments in our work and their impact.

Michal Sella

Executive Director



New logo

After decades of using the same, familiar logo, we are thrilled to share a new, updated version. The new logo draws on the previous logo, which was simple and distinct and incorporates cursive Arabic into the original Hebrew.

This is a statement of renewal that reiterates and reinforces our commitment to a truly Shared Society. We hope the new logo shown above will be associated with Givat Haviva for many years to come, at every junction where a just and Shared Society, a better society, is promoted.


Distributing graphics to raise awareness of gender-based violence

Evidence shows that violence against women is exacerbated by inequality. At the end of November, to acknowledge International Day for Prevention of Violence Against Women, we brought attention to the issue in Israel and posted the graphic above with text reporting that 22 women were murdered to date (November 2022) in Israel.

While Arab women account for only 20% of the women's population in Israel, 12 of the women murdered (over 50%) were Arab. With the anticipated priorities of the new government, it will be more important than ever to demand equitable law enforcement and crime prevention for all communities and population groups. Personal security is a right to which all citizens are equally entitled by democratic principles.

Distributing images and graphics is part of our digital strategy that will serve to raise awareness and shed light on injustices and inequities in Israeli society.


Gush Halav Mayor Elia & Hon. Saib Devor, VP of the District Court addressed newly trained mediators on criminal and cultural mediation while analyzing simulations.

Shaieb mediators' certification ceremony symposium with public figures and community leaders advocating for mediation.

Mediation Centers

The Mediation and Dialogue centers are starting up in five Arab towns under our supervision. These centers will contribute to improved personal security for local residents and create a more cohesive community. Local figures and community leaders who are committed to volunteering at these centers have completed mediation training.

These centers signal to government authorities that mediation, and mediation centers, have a place in all Arab residential areas, and, as in Jewish communities, contribute to resolving local conflicts.


Majd el Krum's Mahmoud Darwish Middle School celebrating shared language with an event for the World Cup opening with activities about the games in Hebrew!

Our shared language program

Our Shared Language Program resumed in November, with spoken Hebrew taught in schools throughout the country serving Palestinian citizens of Israel. In these schools where children are taught in Arabic, Hebrew is studied as a second language. The added emphasis on spoken Hebrew is essential for students to contribute to a Shared Society – for higher education and for the workplace.

The same dedicated educational team at Givat Haviva, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, has been recruiting pairs of teachers – Jewish and Arab – for a new Teacher-Exchange Program. Jewish and Arab Israeli teachers, who completed training in December, will now change schools. In the coming year, we look forward to seeing the impact of this program for students and teachers alike.


Inspiration from Givat Haviva in an award-winning film

A prizewinning, Israeli feature film, Cinema Sabaya, which debuted in September, was explicitly inspired by the Givat Haviva program, Through Others' Eyes.

In the movie, eight Jewish and Palestinian women in Israel participate in a video workshop hosted by a young filmmaker. The participants represent a diversity of ages, backgrounds, personal situations, and identities within their national groups. They come to the workshop with their biases, prejudices, and wariness of the other. These biases are challenged and barriers are broken down throughout the filmmaking process as they express their personal identities with one another. Media attention to the connection between the film and Givat Haviva has resulted in greater visibility of GH programs.


Please let me know if you have any questions and look for additional updates in the near future.

Happy New Year!

Sadie Baker-Wacks

Development Coordinator

Friends of Givat Haviva

Supporting a Shared Society in Israel

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