Some weeks ago, Givat Haviva hosted a group of German youth who arrived in Israel on a reciprocal visit.

The Youth Exchange Delegation is part of an annual leadership project of the youth departments of the Baqa al-Gharbiyye and Menashe Partnership.
The project is led by the Education Department at Givat Haviva and the Pardes program, a group of Hashomer Hatzair educators engaged in youth education for social involvement and activism.

The name that was chosen for the project, "I am/not wanted?" refers to the issue of the refugees, from a past and present perspective, with regard to the waves of war refugees and labor migrants during the Holocaust, after the Second World War and to this day, in Germany, Israel and other countries in Europe and Africa.

During the intensive, multi-workshop week, the youth visited:
  • At the "Besa" ["word of honor" in Albanian] exhibition at the Moreshet Institute in Givat Haviva, showing the rescue of the Jews of Albania during the Holocaust by the Muslim residents of this country.
  •  In the controversial and neglected refugee complex at the new central bus station, an area inhabited mainly by refugees from Eritrea and Sudan.
  • The Assaf Organization, operated by social activists, which provides shelter and humanitarian assistance to refugees and their children.
  • At the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem, where they received a guided tour on the subject of war refugees. We then interviewed a woman who endured the Holocaust as a child, and survived thanks to the help of a Christian family who hid her for four years.
  • In the Old City, where they had a fascinating tour, focusing on the three religions.
  • At Yad Labanim in Daliyat al-Carmel, they received a guided tour and explanation by two Druze soldiers who told the youth about the cultural, religious and identity dilemmas facing the Druze community in Israel.
  • In Kibbutz Beit Oren, where the students interviewed a Bosnian Muslim refugee named Omar who arrived in Israel as part of a rescue operation organized by the Government of Israel during the civil war and the ethnic cleansing that took place in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
The students also interviewed Martina from Qalansuwa (the mother of Karim, one of the students participating in the project), who told the group about her life's journey and adaptation to Arab society in Israel as a German woman who married a local man. She spoke about the cultural, social and mental differences between Israel and Germany and about her personal challenges in the process of adjustment.

The parents of Ilya (a student from Katzir) gave a "Peace Kites" workshop, which the students flew at the Aqueduct Beach in Caesarea.

At the graduation ceremony at the Al Qasemi College in Baqa al-Gharbiyye, the students presented a photo exhibition of their joint journey in Germany and Israel.


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