Citizens' Accord Forum

Jaffa Convention 2015: The Big Event

In light of the upcoming elections in Israel, Givat Haviva will be holding a conference in Jaffa with leading organizations and individuals from the community on February 25th.

The conference will be a cross-sectoral meeting with candidates running for the Knesset, leading decision makers, civil society social activists working in the field, as well as academic and cultural leaders.

Together we will deliberate the question of the future of Jewish-Arab relations in Israel and we will try to distill a common civic approach.

Statement from Mohammad Darawshe, our Director of Planning, Equality and Shared Society at Givat Haviva:
"We are getting ready for the upcoming national elections to be held on the 17th of March.  I have been conducting many consultations with colleagues on methods to increase political participation of the Arab citizens in Israel. The last turnout rate was merely 56%.  If it increases to the 1999 rate of 77%, the Arab representation in the Knesset will increase from 11 seats today to potentially 18 seats in the next Knesset.  This will impact decision-making in the country on two critical matters: equality inside Israel and peace in the region with Israel's neighbors, especially peace with the Palestinians!"

Further details will be sent out in the coming days.  Stay tuned!

Givat Haviva at the White House!

Gal Peleg Laniado, our Israel Representative, was hosted by President Barack Obama in the White House at the official Hanukiah Lighting Ceremony.

Givat Haviva Hanukiah designed by 
Tamar Meshulam, Salma Samara Shehade, and Yoav Weiss

Givat Haviva was honored at the White House at the President's annual Hanukkah Lighting Ceremony.  The Hanukiah (menorah) was designed by three artists, two Jewish and one Arab, with a group of first and second grade children involved in cross-cultural dialogue sessions.  The Hanukiah features the word "LIGHT" written in many different languages by the children.  The candle holders were carved by a Palestinian stone mason. The artists built the Hanukiah as a testament to the values of coexistence, tolerance and cooperation. The artists, concept and materials embody and express the notion that when Arabs and Jews collaborate, they bring light not only to their homes, but let it shine beyond our borders.

Gal and Moshe at the White House Hanukiah Lighting Ceremony

From the White House Official Correspondence

"... [the menorah was sent] to the White House by Givat Haviva, an educational foundation in Israel dedicated to promoting mutual responsibility, civic equality and cooperation between divided groups in Israel as the foundation for building a shared future and shared society.  This menorah was made by children who attend a Hand in Hand School in Jaffa.  On the menorah, children have painted the word "light" in many different languages and in different colors.  Holding the glass upright are eight blocks of polished pink Jerusalem stone, which also have recesses to hold the candles."

Click here to see the email blast!
Check out the rest of the photos here!

Givat Haviva's Response to the Tragic Attack on the Synagogue in Jerusalem

Givat Haviva is deeply shocked by the attack on worshipers yesterday morning at the "Congregation B'nai Torah" synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem, and sends its condolences to the families of those victims, and wishes for a quick and full recovery to those injured in the attack.  There is no justification for harming innocent civilians, and there is nothing that can excuse the slaughter of worshipers in their place of prayer.

Givat Haviva strongly condemns all targeted attacks on Israeli and Palestinian civilians, in synagogues and in mosques.

We call upon the leaders of both sides to avoid any unnecessary incitement and to take all possible steps available to stop the deterioration and acts of revenge that are leading us to a vicious circle of violence.

We expect the leaders to react strongly to terrorism while also returning to the path of reconciliation and hope.  The root of this enormous pain, suffering and loss is in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It is impossible to continue to "manage the conflict" in the midst of this bloodshed.

We must return, swiftly, to the path of conflict resolution.  It is possible. Stop the cycle of bloodshed, and give us a chance to enjoy a peaceful and nonviolent life.

Yaniv Sagee
Executive Director
Givat Haviva, Israel

Givat Haviva's Response to the Proposed "Jewish Nation-State" Basic Law

Givat Haviva expresses its deep concern at the current steps being carried out to enact a "Jewish Nation-State" Basic Law, a law that threatens to further damage the shared social fabric of the State of Israel.  The law ultimately would establish superiority to the national element over its democratic structure, by granting preferential rights to the majority over the minority.  This sentiment is in complete contradiction to what is stated in the Israeli Declaration of Independence and the character that the founders and lawmakers hoped to establish, as expressed in the Basic Laws up until now and especially highlighted by the "Respect for Humans and their Freedom" Law.

We view with puzzlement and concern how in times that call for calm reconciliation and dialogue, the actions of the government of Israel and its leadership are actually raising fences between sectors of the population and enforcing what already polarizes the various groups.  These actions deepen separation and discrimination instead of extinguishing the sizzling conflagration, and do nothing to strengthen the basis for building a Shared Future.

We see the current process as a dangerous political gamble with the future of Israeli society and a lack of social sensitivity and political insight.  Together this constitutes a complete distortion of the vision of the Zionist movement of the State of Israel, traditionally as not only the homeland of the Jewish people, but also a state with equality for all of its citizens.

There are a number of components in this proposed law that will make the discrimination and separation the Arab minority suffers from much deeper.  Its objective is to permit courts to give preference to the Jewish identity of the State over its democratic government in rulings where there is a clash between both values.  The proposal attempts to deviate from the spirit of the Declaration of Independence and currently existing legislation and to redesign the nature of the State of Israel as a Jewish State with its democratic nature being secondary to its Jewish essence.

The proposed law includes a series of definitions that will significantly harm equality and will strengthen the discrimination and separation suffered by Arab citizens of Israel:

  • Israel will be defined as the National State of the Jewish people
  • The democratic government will be subject to its definition as a Jewish Nation-State
  • The Arabic language will not be defined as an official language in Israel
  • Jewish law will be used as an inspiration for new legislation and for court rulings 
  • The country will act to support Jewish settlement within its realm, but will not commit to construction for other nationalities 
  • The collective right to the fostering of culture and heritage is reserved for Jews only
As those who work for the establishment of an egalitarian, shared society and for democracy, we appeal to the Prime Minister and ask him to shelve this proposed law and to move forward an opposite proposal.  It is precisely today, in order to preserve democracy, the we propose to move forward a complete Basic Law of Human Rights that will anchor the right to equality in place of the proposed Jewish Nation-State law that will even further ingrain inequality.

We appeal to the Israeli government: The State of Israel was established as a democracy and not an ethnocracy.  We appeal to you to reject the proposed Nation-State law and in its place, to work for the equality and inclusion of all citizens of the State in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.

Yaniv Sagee
Executive Director
Givat Haviva, Israel

Givat Haviva's Call to the Israeli Government: SAVE SHARED SOCIETY IN ISRAEL!

Givat Haviva -- Call to the Government to Save the Shared Society in Israel

Givat Haviva and the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace are deeply concerned about the recent rapid deterioration in Jewish-Arab relations, which threatens the entire Israeli society.  The dangerous combination of long term institutional discrimination, as it was described in the conclusions of the Or Commission, with economic distress, rising racism, a sense of political persecution, the weakness in the treatment of the "Price Tag" terrorists, the threat to the status quo at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, and the feeling that there is a separate law for Arabs (as it was manifest in the latest incident in Kafr Kanna) -- all contribute to the present situation where any incident could ignite the already volatile field.

We support the local leadership of the Arab society and our partners among the civil society organizations that have been making great efforts to calm down emotions and minimize the damage to the fabric of shared life in Israel.  But this is not enough!

We call upon the Israeli senior leadership, under the responsibility of the Prime Minister, to engage in a different discourse regarding the Arab citizens of Israel, to clearly condemn the inciting calls for exclusion, and to lead a move for making Israeli citizenship more significant for these citizens through a consistent and continuous dialogue with the local Arab leadership, providing a long term response to the needs of the Arab society.

We call upon his Excellency the President of Israel, in his honorable position and with his widely accepted personality, to invite the members of the Government of Israel and the heads of the Arab population (the High Follow-Up Committee) to gather for an emergency joint meeting in an attempt to open channels of communication and prevent a full decline of the situation.

We call upon the Minister of Internal Security: Take back your inciting words that might damage the proper rule of law in Israel.

We call upon the Chief of Police to clarify the instructions regarding the equal treatment that the police must show all citizens and residents of Israel, regardless of nationality, gender or race, and to suspend, until the end of the investigation, the team that was involved in the incident in Kafr Kanna.

We call upon the Minister of Education: It is time to act upon your promises and immediately adopt a national program for education towards shared living, based on the recommendations that were submitted to the Ministry in 2009.  Children in Israel who are educated in a separate system and are exposed to the media that emphasizes mostly the conflict between various parts of Israeli society, grow up to become racist.  In order to avoid it there should be a significantly increased investment in Jewish-Arab encounters, to provide students with more of them, not less, as has been the case.

We call for expanding partnerships between neighbors, creating extensive mechanisms of communal partnerships based on common interests, making connections between neighboring Jewish and Arab communities.  The successful model created and implemented by Givat Haviva proves that this can be the basis for building a shared society in Israel, on both the regional and the national levels.

We call upon anyone who is as concerned as we are, not to stand aloof but to join hands in our struggle to maintain the democratic and humane character of the shared society in Israel.


Yaniv Sagee                                   Riad Kabha                                Mohammad Darawshe
Executive Director                         The Jewish-Arab                         Director of Planning, Equality
Givat Haviva                                  Center for Peace                          and Shared Society, Givat Haviva