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

New Moreshet Program: The Holocaust for Arab History Teachers

Moreshet, Givat Haviva's Mordechai Anielevich Memorial Holocaust Study and Research Center has recently introduced a new program that establishes a Teachers' Kit about the Holocaust for Arab History Teachers.

"It is a necessity to remember that even after the Holocaust there can be life without hate and vengeance..." - Hayka Grossman 7.30.1980

The founders of Givat Haviva's Moreshet Center believed that tolerance, humane equality and acceptance of the other are the foundation for a healthy and stable society which can live in peace and prevent hatred, racism and violence.  This is why we find significant importance in the dialogue between Arab and Jewish Israelis.  We believe that a real, direct and sincere dialogue promotes partnership between Jews and Arabs and strengthens the Israeli democracy and society.  One of the ways to achieve these goals is to share with Arab citizens in Israel the Holocaust memory and its central role in Jewish society as a way to share and experience each others' historic narratives.

In order to expose Moreshet activities to Arab citizens, Moreshet has created a new curriculum tailored to cater to the Arab narrative. These adjustments include the following:

  1. Translation of the exhibitions to Arabic.
  2. Translation of study material of workshops and activities to Arabic.
  3. Opening a training course for history teachers from the Arab sector to guide their students in Moreshet exhibitions.
  4. Translate testimony films and purchase documentaries to Arabic.
  5. In-service training for school principles and history teachers, a collaboration with the PISGA center in the Arab town of Baqa El-Garbia.
  6. Preparing workshops and educational materials for teachers to effectively teach the material to their Arab students.
  7. Study days and seminars for school students in Moreshet.
  8. Study days in Arab sector schools conducted by Moreshet guides.

Most significantly, one of the innovative methods developed to involve Arab students in a productive dialogue about the Holocaust narrative is to use stories of Muslim families hiding, rescuing and saving Jews from the Gestapo and the concentration camps.  This method allows Israeli Arabs to become a part of the historic narrative in a positive way that frees them from inhibiting feelings of guilt and blame. 

The program began in July 2013 with a steering committee that featured representatives from the Arab community as well as experts in the field.  The team included a high school principal from the Arab community, two senior history teachers in the Arab community, an Arabic speaker and Poland Guide, and representatives from Moreshet.  The team conducted eight meetings within a three month period, with the purpose of building an outline for educational content.  In October several training seminars were held with a number of Arab history teachers participating in order to best prepare them for the curriculum.

In June the next phase began with a meeting with the Director of Arab education, Abdullah Khatib; a representative from the Arab Monitoring Centre in Haifa district, Orsan Aiadat; the Arab Education Superintendent for History, Dr. Qasim Darwashe; and the PISGA Center Manager and teacher from Babkah Algarbia, Mr. Rabah Kozel.  This team approved the content and assisted in its exposure to principals and history teachers in Arab schools.  In consultation with the Director of PISGA in Baka el Gharbia and the superintendent of history teaching in Arab education, Moreshet organized an exposure day in September, and the next round of training courses is currently underway.

The Teachers' Kit Includes:

  • Timeline: A historic time axis that can be re-used in the classroom, including 11 periods from 1919 to 1945 and associated maps and diagrams.
  • Booklet for Teachers
    • Optimized design of the booklet timeline, including maps and diagrams
    • Additions to timeline information, intended only for teaching purposes
    • Rich glossary
    • Activity proposals for classroom on the Nazi ideology and the Nuremberg Laws, including detailed appendixes
    • Methods summary including the use of stories of Muslim families hiding, saving and rescuing Jews from the Gestapo and concentration camps to bring Arab students into the Holocaust narrative
  • We Were There
    • CD with excerpts from the movie, "We Were There" which deals with a joint delegation (Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Druze) to Poland
This is only the first kit, Moreshet will continue to master and produce more kits for Arab teachers, as well as enlarging the capacity of the Teachers Training Seminars to deepen and expand their knowledge about WWII, the Holocaust and their role in this historic narrative.

To learn more about this Program, click here.
To learn more about Moreshet, click here.  

President Rivlin Addresses Israel Academy of Sciences: Arab-Jewish Tensions at Record Highs

Photo by Haim Tzach
On Sunday, October 19th, President Reuven Rivlin addressed the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities at a special conference on "From Xenophobia to Accepting the Other". Following expressions of hatred and violence that have taken place recently, the Academy decided to hold a conference to discuss and tackle this phenomenon.

In his address, the President referred to the tensions flaring between the various populations in Israel, and noted the verbal violence which he experienced recently: "The tension between Jews and Arabs within the State of Israel has risen to record heights, and the relationship between all parties has reached a new low. We have all witnessed the shocking sequence of incidents and violence taking place by both sides. The epidemic of violence is not limited to one sector or another, it permeates every area and doesn’t skip any arena. There is violence in soccer stadiums as well as in the academia. There is violence in the social media and in everyday discourse, in hospitals and in schools. I too have been exposed to verbal abuse every time I post something on my Facebook page which doesn’t sit well with one group of users or another. It is time to honestly admit that Israeli society is ill – and it is our duty to treat this disease."

The President continued his statement by saying: "To paraphrase Martin Buber's lecture, I do not ask, ‘Have we forgotten to be Jewish?’ But instead I ask, have we forgotten to be human? Have we forgotten how to speak? Have we abandoned the secret to conducting dialogue? It is my view that Israeli academia has a crucial role in reducing violence in Israeli society. The academic sphere, in which cultures and languages ​​are taught from a desire to get to know them deeper, where there is a ‘you and I’ affinity, there is a place which generates not only learning but also a real encounter. The Academy should be a space which prepares a new generation of Israeli citizens to talk to each other, and especially to learn how to listen to each other. At times like this, we need to learn how to talk, how to discuss, how to share without rejecting, and how to argue without reaching an agreement. The Academy cannot hide behind books and research. The Academy, as Plato founded it, is a place we learn a way of life."

During the event the President referred to grants he wished to provide doctoral students from humanities and social sciences, and said: "I do not have many ways to influence the path of the Academy, but at my request, the first President's Scholarships, will be granted to students in the humanities and social sciences, whose work describes an encounter between cultures, languages ​​and religions, with an emphasis on the significant encounter between East and West. I hope that through this tribute I can express my belief in the significant role of research in the humanities, as a basis for developing of a tolerant society."

Communicated by the President’s Spokesperson, Courtesy of