Letter from our Executive Director
Dear Friends and Partners,
This update is written as our country is yet again immersed in another cycle of bloody conflict. Once more, blood spills all around us, fueling the fire of hatred and fear between the two nations who share this land. This is a time of great danger for the personal safety of citizens of both nations and for the existence of democracy in Israel. This is the moment of truth regarding the impact of our programs and our ability to preserve elements of shared society amidst the surrounding conflagration. The roots of the conflict lie in the occupation and its current incarnation, inducing a sense of erosion of the status quo on the Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif. The bloody events have spread from Jerusalem to every corner of Israel, leaving Jewish citizens afraid of Arab citizens and Arab citizens afraid of Jewish citizens.
Precisely at this difficult time I was glad to see the valuable impact of the strategies that Givat Haviva pursues all year. Together with the mayors in our region, we put out a plea for dialogue and partnership. To fulfill this call, we erected a Partnership and Dialogue Tent at the eastern entrance to Wadi Ara, where more than 1,000 people from our two nations came together over the course of a week, showing the entire country how things here could be different. In the second week, the tent moved its activity to the Givat Haviva campus, where we hosted groups of young people. These past several weeks, we have been making our voice heard in communication and dialogue with policymakers, educators and heads of municipalities, helping preserve the fabric of coexistence in Israel in general and in our region in particular.
In spite of the great tension, Givat Haviva opened the new year of activity with great impetus, actually doubling the extent of our activity from the previous year. Our Education for Shared Living programs began, and new facilitators were trained. Our new program of joint study and meetings between schools in neighboring communities – Mantikatna, Our Region – was launched and is now training nearly 100 teachers to lead the program in their schools’ classrooms. Our programs designed to empower Arab society began extensive activity: 10,000 students are participating in our Hebrew Enrichment program “Yihyeh B’Seder” this year, and new academic studies began at Givat Haviva, the crown jewel of which is the program "Bara-em Hi-Tech" in which high school students learn computer science and graduate high school with 60 percent of their degree. Study programs in preparation for the Hebrew and psychometric academic entrance exams were also launched and complete the range of programs for equality and empowerment. Even our veteran program of intensive study of Arabic language and culture is thriving this year with a group of 34 students, the largest in many years.
Thus the momentum continues in Givat Haviva’s other activity centers as well. It is accompanied and supported by Friends of Givat Haviva from around the world, with whom we met a month ago at a seminar hosted by the Friends of Givat Haviva in Germany to mark 20 years of their operation. For three days we were treated to a togetherness that was reassuring and instructive. We, the delegation from Givat Haviva, introduced our new strategies, detailed plans and funding needs. The Friends from Europe and the United States presented their work, and together we strengthened our connection and our ability to work towards the establishment of a shared and egalitarian democratic Israel. I take this opportunity to thank all my friends and especially Friedel Grützmacher, head of the Society of Friends in Germany and Torsten Reibold, representative of Givat Haviva and Havatzelet in Europe, together with all the members of the Friends society in Germany who labored many months for the success of the meeting.
Yaniv Sagee, Executive Director of Givat Haviva