March 2023 Newsletter
Updated: Jul 31
It has been a chaotic time in Israel, with social and political unrest reaching a boiling point following what can be described as a coup d'état. Hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens are returning to the streets again and again in a heroic attempt to preserve the Israeli democratic system. The system, although flawed, still allows for another way to correct injustices and fight for equality and justice. The constitutional crisis plaguing Israel has also spilled over into the West Bank.
As expected, the government instability has led to unprecedented violence resulting in deaths, injuries, and property damage on both sides —most notably, murderous attacks and a shameful pogrom by Jewish settlers in Hawara. A pogrom, which Finance Minister Smotrich openly supported. Even stun grenades have been thrown by police at demonstrators in central Tel Aviv.
But despite the demonstrations, shutdowns, and chaos, we continued here at Givat Haviva to build a common society. The majority of the Israeli public has responded to these upsetting events by increasing support for our joint programs that promote democracy and equality.
We understand two simple truths. The first is that Arab Israelis will be the most affected by the coup d'état, and the second is that instability in the West Bank will spill over into the State of Israel. The instability is already affecting Jewish-Arab relations in the country. Faced with this reality, Jews and Arabs who believe that our future is linked and shared, must act. We must all try to create social-civil resilience in the face of the government's measures so that we do not find ourselves back in the unrest of May 2021.
The way forward is to continue meeting, to be partners in the protest and struggle, and to create shared spaces in education, business, culture, and our daily lives. Israel and the overwhelming majority of people living in Israel will endure, despite the political regimes that threaten us. We are here to remind everyone willing to listen that, at Givat Haviva, we are continuing to build a shared future.
Michal Sela, CEO
Our staff in the news
Michal Sela, CEO of Givat Haviva, spoke at an emergency conference of Haaretz, the New Foundation, and the Zolt Institute in February: "What is happening today in education is not the beginning of a process but the culmination of a process that began 10 years ago. The religious right invested in the religious state education system, in its budgeting, and its protection. A student in religious state education today receives a budget that is 27 percent higher than a student in Hebrew state education, and 40 percent higher than a student in Arab state education. The religious state education is protected by the Hamad Council, while the Hebrew and Arab state education is unprotected, making it vulnerable to outside interference that undermines its democratic values”.
Mohammed Dawarshe, Givat Haviva's Head of Strategy, in an interview with Musava channel about the coup d'état and the Arab society's involvement in the protest
Celebrating 30 Years of Partnership and Friendship with Rhineland-Palatinate (Germany)
Thirty years of partnership and friendship between the state of Rhineland-Palatinate (Germany) and Givat Haviva were celebrated in February with a visit to Givat Haviva by the president of the Parliament, Mr. Hendrik Hering; Minister of Education, Dr. Stephanie Hubig, and a delegation from the parliamentary education committee.
A wide range of projects in Givat Haviva has come to fruition thanks to the continuous contribution and support of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, most notably, our Educational Encounters program.
Members of the delegation took part in a full day of learning, discussions and meetings, including spending time with graduates of the "Children Teaching Children" program from the Wadi Ara region, who shared their perspectives and experiences.
Michal Sela of GH described the political developments in Israel and the threat they pose to the field of education for a shared society. “As we have done for decades,” she told the delegation, “Givat Haviva will persist, and our work will continue. In four years Israel will have a new government, and Givat Haviva will remain a leader in education for a shared society.”
Jewish and Arab Youth Meetings in Givat Haviva
The caption accompanying the photo in an earlier version of this story described the Shush program as a project for LGBT youth, which was incorrect and the caption has been updated.
In the Shush (Partnership and Belonging) program last month we hosted 430 Jewish and Arab students ages 13-15, belonging to six pairs of schools.
700 Arab and Jewish students met last month in eight Face-to-Face seminars.
February was a busy month for student meetings between Arab and Jewish schools. We hosted around 1,125 students in two programs: the Face-to-Face Seminar — a two-day meeting for 10th and 11th-grade classes; and Partnership and Belonging Encounter Program, which includes four meetings between students from different schools.
Students from various locations in Israel, such as Tamra, Deir Hanna, Deir al-Assad, Arraba, Sakhnin, Yafia, Kfar Kana, Sheikh Danun, Kafr Qasim, Tayibe, Baqa al-Gharbiyye, Shefayim, Ramat Gan, Holon, Modiin, Kibbutz Kfar Masaryk, Megiddo, Efrat, Kiryat Bialik, and Ein HaHoresh participated.
The programs focused on deepening the students' familiarity with one another. This included finding common ground, bridging the gap between languages and exploring personal and social identity.
Experienced facilitators guided the students through challenging conversations. Students were able to express their social values in a respectful environment where they listened attentively to one another and shared their identities and stories.
Shared Language Program
The program team conducted a field tour in the Ilut Intermediate Division as part of the Shared Language program to strengthen the connection between Hebrew and Arabic cultures. The Ilut High School hosted Ort Dafna - Kiryat Bialik's students, where they participated in conversation, activities, and fascinating games in Hebrew and Arabic.
The games emphasized the similarities between words, idioms, and sayings shared by both cultures. The meeting ended with a game called “Treasure Hunt,” where students worked together to solve a puzzle and find clues that create the sentence, “Together we will grow a partnership.” The head of the Ilut Local Council, the director of the Education Department, the school supervisor, the program manager on behalf of the Ministry of Education, and the program manager on behalf of Givat Haviva all attended.
The teacher exchange program began in February, with Shaar HaNegev Middle School and Alhawizile Middle School being the first pair to participate.
Givat Haviva International School
David Broza, a musician, composer, and performing artist, visited GHIS and shared his mission to connect Jews and Arabs. Students staged "Peace," based on the play "Grease." The adaptation touched on Arab-Jewish relations, discrimination against women, love, and family. The students also demonstrated at the campus entrance as part of activities related to education for democracy. The cultural exchange course between the international school and the students of Sindiana, Gvanim, and Alon Yitzhak was successfully completed.
Joint Art Center
The Jerusalem Joint Gallery for Art at Givat Haviva held a gallery talk with the young artists of the current exhibition, “AIR 1,” along with Hanan Abu Husayin, winner of the 2023 Reffport Prize, and with Adina Bar On, Galia Bar Or, and Avner Zinger. Claude Zoref and Anat Lidror moderated. Hundreds of students from across the country, Jewish and Arab, religious and secular, of all abilities, experienced art that combines basic humanistic, democratic, multicultural and shared society values. This was particularly meaningful at a time when there is so much political unrest and turmoil in Israel.
The New High School, a champion of pluralism, traveled twice from Tel Aviv for two-day camps. The Kerim High School from Karmiel, where Jewish and Arab students learn together, focused on enhancing their understanding of a shared society through art. The multinational Leo Bek High School in Haifa, which offers education to Jewish and Arab students of different religious backgrounds and those with special needs, devoted two days to effective communication during times of societal conflict. Urban High School A from Tel Aviv, renowned for having one of the best art programs in the country, enjoyed an analog photography experience in our darkroom and a guided tour of the “AIR 1” exhibition at the Givat Haviva Gallery.
Students and staff were given an introduction to Givat Haviva and its values, as well as a tour of the sculptural area and guidance through the exhibition showcasing the voices of young Arab and Jewish artists who had completed a joint residency program at Givat Haviva.
It has been a busy time in Israel and on Givat Haviva campus. We are not discouraged by the current political situation and will continue doing this critical work.
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Supporting a Shared Society in Israel