Shared Jewish-Arab Partnership - New Israel Fund Australia

Shared Jewish-Arab Partnership

NIF works to advance a society in Israel that is truly shared among its residents, one in which every Israeli has an equal stake. We are committed to combating racism and protecting minorities from discrimination.

The deepest rift in Israeli society is between Jewish and Palestinian citizens (sometimes called Israeli Arabs). This is rooted in strong national identities and exacerbated by the greater conflict between Israel and its neighbours, the prolonged occupation, and accelerating ultra-nationalist and racist political trends. In addition, there are troubling disconnects and enmities between Jewish sectors of the public.

But despite the common emphasis on conflict, there are many areas of cooperation — microcosms throughout Israel that might “scale up” to the national level. There is also growing public awareness of the phenomenon of racism, and new opportunities for shared society-building through networking, community organising, advocacy and litigation.

Our approach stresses the advantages of social diversity, strengthens moderating voices, and builds places for intercultural encounter that can deepen bonds, prevent escalation and tangibly improve the lives of Jews and Palestinians alike.

WATCH our session with Naomi Chazan and Reem Younis from October 2021 where they discuss the aftermath of the violence between Jews and Arabs in May 2021 and how to rebuild shared society:

Projects we support:

Atid Bamidbar – Developing Bedouin Tourism as a Catalyst for Good Neighbourly Relations

The Good Neighbors network in the Negev was established with the collaboration of Shatil, Atid Bamidbar, and the Mirkam Ezori group in 2018. It currently includes nine organizations and grassroots initiatives and about 30 activists.

The network sees the development of Bedouin tourism based on Bedouin-Jewish cooperation, especially in the unrecognised villages, as a path not only for individual and community empowerment and the economic development of these impoverished settlements, but also as a lever for developing tourism throughout the Negev and for preserving Bedouin culture and society and showcasing it to visitors from Israel and later from abroad.

To achieve the project's objectives, an unprecedented set of collaborative ventures have been formed between sectors, tourism associations, and local and regional authorities, including periodic sessions of a roundtable of both sectors to promote Bedouin tourism. The project has obtained long-term promises (from Rayan, Maof, the Tourism Ministry, and others) for the training and marketing elements.

Grants:

  • 2021 – $22,507

Bait la-Ruah – Support Course for Reducing Tensions in Mixed Medical Teams

The staff of many medical facilities in Israel, especially in the north, are mixed – Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Along with the sense of partnership that derives from their vocation, with its focus on saving lives and caring for patients, a certain tension between the groups is liable to emerge, especially in periods of regional tension.

During the events of last May (Operation Guardian of the Walls) we witnessed outbursts of violence previously unknown, which generated great pain and harsh feelings even among medical personnel who had been working together for years. Hence, the proposed course is extremely relevant and important just now.

One of the main goals of the course is to provide tools for dealing with the difficulties of a routine whose heightened exposure to suffering and loss leads to burnout, while creating a safe space that permits an open – rather than judgmental – dialogue and intercultural understanding.

The project will offer a trailblazing model course for the medical staff of three institutions in northern Israel—a hospital, a senior citizens’ home, and a health fund clinic. The aim is to create an infrastructure that can be replicated for other personnel in the same institution and subsequently introduced to other similar institutions. Bait la-Ruah has experience and expertise in these fields. Later, they plan to produce a manual for implementing the model in other places.

The experience of many staff living through the recent crisis is that in shared workplaces the conflict is felt very tangibly during flare ups in tension and violence. Rolling out counselling services to staff who most acutely experience this – and then using the model to deploy it around the country – is a vital service to lower tensions and alleviate the distress and difficulty of working in this environment.

Grants:

  • 2021 – $16,205

Hashomer Hatzair

The Centres for Social Justice were established in 2016 by the Movement of Hashomer Hatsair Graduates, in order to promote democracy, equality, and solidarity in Israeli society by means of community organizing and courses for social activists. Today there are five centres throughout the country, which provide a roof for tens of thousands of activists and offer dozens of leadership courses and action groups. The Social Justice Centres are currently experiencing a growth spurt and are about to establish many new centres that will serve as a home for all members of society.

By creating a centre in Ramle for young Jews and Arabs, the project will give skills and tools to the participants to help them get out of the cycle of poverty and violence, better understand how to live together and reduce the levels of violence, and ultimately serve as the emerging leaders in Ramle and in the State of Israel.

Hashomer Hatzair believes that the first step that needs to be taken to address Israel’s major challenges is for its citizens to learn and receive practical and rational tools for making social change. 

In their centres, they have developed professional training programs that are open to the general public, where they bring together citizens and equip them with all the tools necessary to lead change at both the local and national levels. 

During their training programs, participants meet Israel’s top experts in many fields: economics and society, religion and state, planning, communications, environment and more. In addition, the programs include meetings with academics and activists leading social change. 

Hashomer Hatzair’s flagship program – The Training Program for Social Change – includes 12 evening meetings that focus on practical training. Afterwards, the participants embark on a final project in which they organize an urban roundtable event during which they establish action groups to create change in various areas. To date, 2,500 citizens have participated in the training program

Founding such centres in Arab and mixed towns is a goal of prime importance and Hashomer Hatzair has prioritized establishing an Arab-Jewish centre in Ramle. It will have two directors – one Arab, one Jewish – along with a team of local residents with whom they have begun discussions, and in cooperation with the local authority.

The centre will deal with the burning issues in Arab society today, including crime and violence, education, equal rights, integration and employment, gender equality, infrastructure and housing, local and national democracy, and Israeli Arab identity and culture.

The centre will run two courses in the first year and three in the second year. The lead team and two action groups will be established in the first year, and five more action groups in the second year. In the first year, the centre will involve 200 course graduates and social activists; and 500 in the second year.

The project's goal is to augment the power of the Arab sector in Israel at the grassroots, so that a voice calling for peace and solidarity can be heard and so that progress can be made towards a shared society based on equality.

Grants:

  • 2021 – $22,507

Hand in Hand: Centre for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel

A shining light in Israel’s education system, the Hand in Hand schools, bring together Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel in a dual-narrative, bilingual environment.

More than 1,800 students attend Hand in Hand schools, but their unique model means that it’s not just the students impacted by the program, but also the circles around them. Parents, friends and the wider communities in which the schools are embedded reduce the distress and fear of living in a conflict zone.

By embracing ‘the other’, there is greater trust and better relations between Jewish and Palestinian Israelis living in close proximity.

Whenever there are incendiary moments like the Nation-State Law’s passage, or skirmishes on the Gaza border, the Hand in Hand communities are equipped to work through them, know their classmates aren’t their enemy, and set a standard for a shared Israeli society.

Grants:

  • 2021 – $6,396
  • 2020 – $57,590
  • 2019 – $54,340
  • 2018 – $51,080

Victor Smorgon Charitable Fund logo

We are grateful to the Victor Smorgon Charitable Fund for their support of Hand in Hand.