This week NIF organised a major public event to celebrate the recent 40 emergency grants awarded to organisations promoting Jewish-Arab partnership and the notion that Israel should be a shared society in which all of its citizens feel an equal sense of belonging.
These awards have been given to a huge variety of activities, including a project to teach Arab and Jewish schoolchildren storytelling skills, an effort to bring Jews and Arabs together around dinner tables, and a training seminar teaching Jewish and Arab tour guides how to run dual-narrative tours.
The event, which was held in Jaffa, was attended by over 200 activists and NGO representatives. After an opportunity for networking, everyone gathered for a fascinating panel discussion about Jewish-Arab cooperation, which featured Robi Damelin from the Parents’ Circle, Sikkuy co-director Rawnak Natour, and prominent Israeli-Arab actor Norman Issa (who spoke about the Jewish-Arab Theatre in Jaffa). There was also a performance from the Jaffa Arab-Jewish Choir, and Norman Issa performed a short sketch from his new one-man play.
The event came at a time when Jewish-Arab relations in Israel are yet again under strain following the recent shootings in Tel Aviv, and the government’s harsh rhetoric in response, which included speeches questioning the loyalty of Israel’s Arab citizens.
The need for the work these emergency grantees is more urgent than ever, and underscores NIF’s decision to make developing a shared society one of our focus areas.