I hope this letter finds you well and filled with the same passion and commitment to fostering peace and dialogue that we have at Friends of Givat Haviva. Your support and encouragement have made a significant impact on the lives of individuals and communities in Israel. During these increasingly tumultuous times, our work to support a more just, equitable, and peaceful society in Israel is more critical than ever.
Today, I want to share the experience of one of our dedicated facilitators, Ben Ami, who reports on the atmosphere in Israel and what it feels like to be part of Givat Haviva.
Ben Ami, Givat Haviva Encounters Program Facilitator
Allow me to introduce Ben in his own words: "My name is Ben Ami, and I am a facilitator at Givat Haviva. Working at Givat Haviva for the past year has shown me various approaches to facilitating dialogue and exposed me to different kinds of groups and their needs. Working in these times, with dramatic political changes, the tension between Jews and Arabs and the lack of security on a personal and national level, has pushed us as facilitators to do more than just 'facilitate a workshop.' We have had to become strong and resilient anchors for our youth in times of discomfort, uncertainty, and a lack of understanding of 'the other.'"
For Ben, the impact of spending time with youth and young adults is palpable. "Working in the seminars held at Givat Haviva has been a life-changing experience. Mostly, the groups that arrive have never met anyone from 'the other side' nor connected on a deep conversational level. It is the first time for most of them to hear different perspectives than their own on the toughest political and social subjects.”
Ben's background as a Moroccan Jewish Israeli and his experience as a Master's student in Middle Eastern studies illustrate the diversity and inclusivity that underpin our programs.
Participants in the Encounters Program, with facilitators like Ben, engaging in activities during the seminar
His ability to bridge linguistic and cultural gaps gives the youth and young adults a sense of connection and empathy. By valuing the perspectives of both sides, Ben creates an environment where mutual understanding and growth can flourish: "For me personally, being a Jewish facilitator who speaks Arabic allows the Jewish group to feel 'I support them' in the moments they don't understand the language. At the same time, I serve as a bridge for the Arab group, seeing someone who speaks the language of their hearts, not only the language of their mind."
At Givat Haviva, we firmly believe in the transformative power of authentic dialogue. And now, in a world heavily influenced by social media, our commitment to active listening and fostering genuine face-to-face connections becomes even more vital. "This becomes harder and harder, especially because social media has become the key factor of socializing for these young adults,” Ben says. But he offers an alternative. “I honestly believe in the work we do at Givat Haviva and trust that the process works. I support the practice of allowing all subjects to be raised in the discussion, with a deep understanding of the power relations that exist in this land, along with different narratives, hopes, dreams, and fears."
There is a place for all voices to be heard and respected. We protect and allow safe zones, and we know we cannot judge anyone's perspective. In these interactions, my job is not to try and convince the participants of anything but to listen to them. Focusing on listening is the key," he says.
Through our programs, we create spaces for deep conversations where multiple perspectives are shared, but we can’t do this without you.
Your donation directly influences the lives of these young individuals and their communities. It enables us to meet the increasing demand for programs that foster meaningful interactions between Jewish and Arab youth and young adults.
To support Friends of Givat Haviva and contribute to a brighter future, please visit our website at ghefpeace.org/donate. Together, we can empower more youth and young adults, expand our programs, and shape a better world. Thank you for your unwavering commitment to our cause. Your generosity contributes to lasting change and paves the way for a more inclusive and harmonious society.
(212) 989-9272 (ext. 3)
Supporting a Shared Society in Israel