A Passover Message from Yaniv Sagee, 
our Executive Director

As we sit around the seder table and consider our liberty, the question arises: Are we truly free? The question is a common subject of contemplation. It would seem that we have our own independent country, and are masters of our own destiny. But in actuality, I feel we are bound by the fetters of racism and hate, which prevent us from being, in the words of our national anthem, a free people in our own land.

Racism and violence have grown so common that they have become normal. We have almost forgotten what a truly normal society looks like. Thus, a soldier who shoots a terrorist who has been neutralized - while the whole chain of command from the Company Commander up to the Chief of Staff state that he committed an unacceptable act - becomes a "hero."  But this insanity is not the exclusive domain of one side of the political map. Two hundred years ago, Samuel Johnson already said, "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." Thus in Israel of 2016, patriotism, built on racism, is the last refuge of those who seek the approval of the masses, whose heart is poisoned by hate for Arabs. What began on the eve of elections with a hysterical prime minister who let loose his racism in order to win the elections, continued with the leader of the opposition, who in his own fight for political survival, connected with the crazed mob in the square.

Racism and violence have a price, and that price is everyone's liberty. Democracy is a delicate and fragile tissue, and when one part is damaged, the rest unravels. There cannot be a state, although many are under this delusion, that is free and democratic for Jews, but oppressive and aggressive toward all others. We will discover very quickly that the same violence is directed toward all citizens, but we will discover this the hard way, and only when it is too late.

A free country is a country that contains a multiplicity of opinions. It is a country of diverse nations and identities, all of which have their place, without demanding that any accept the narrative of the other. It is a country in which the military defines military norms, civilians define civilian norms, and leaders know how to unite and not just to divide. This is the only country for which it is worthwhile to wander forty years in the desert, a country for which it is worth fighting for.

Yaniv Sagee

Roadmap for a Shared Society

April 17th was the official launch of our new project, " Roadmap for a Shared Society." Leading public figures from a wide political spectrum and all sectors of Israeli society, Jewish and Arab, men and women, professionals from government, business, civil society, education, and academia, gathered for the opening session of the program. The meeting began with greetings from Givat Haviva program leaders, after which Professor Jay Rothman gave a workshop on "The Power of Why" to create a foundation of solidarity for the challenging work ahead. The participants will form five professional working groups that will meet over the coming nine months to articulate concrete goals and measurables in the areas of education, economic development, governance/local governance, land use, and cultural representation and restorative processes -- topics based on the UN Millennium Development Goals. 

Each of these groups are led by two Champions, one Jewish and one Arab, who are well-known public figures with a commitment to consensus building and a knowledge of and background experience with the subject matter, who can ultimately both galvanize the work of the groups and garner public support. Each group is also supported by a dedicated facilitator with expertise in conflict management and knowledge of the group's subject, and a senior researcher who provides each group with background material on their topic and on relevant previous experience, both in Israel and internationally. Following the opening workshop, the groups convened separately to hear from the researchers and to begin the initial discussions.

Following the formulation of goals, Givat Haviva will then take the resulting document for a massive campaign of public deliberation to ensure  inclusivity and buy-in, followed by integration of the feedback into a final Roadmap document and a concerted drive to advocate its adoption. We thank all of our esteemed participants for their involvement, and wish them the best in this important challenge!

In Case You Missed It...

This past month has been a busy one for our Executive Director, Yaniv Sagee, who travelled across the country for speaking engagements, meetings and outreach events. Yaniv visited NYC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, Washington DC and Toronto. Check out some of the photos below in case  you missed him!

Yaniv Sagee and Mohammad Darawshe in Toronto speaking at our Heart to Heart event. Read more about this program here!

Hosted by the New Israel Fund in NYC, Yaniv spoke to  an audience about Shared Society and the work  Givat Haviva  i s lea ding on the ground.

Yaniv speaking to a classroom of students about the reality of Arab- Jewish relations in Israel at the Einstein Hebrew Charter 
High School in the  LA region.

Yaniv at a dinner party with Mazen Ghanaim -- the mayor of  Sakhnin  and head of the National Committee of the Arab  Local Authorities. Also in attendance was Itamar Shwiky (CEO of  Havatzelet), Harriet Mouchly-Weiss Chair of GHEF,   Rami  Nuseir and  Kasim Abu Raia.

Yaniv and Emily Deakins, chair of our Texas Friends of Givat Haviva group at a parlor meeting graciously hosted by Jeanne Saletan in Houston.
Omer Hakim, Yaniv Sagee and Itamar Shwiky with Chancellor Edwards and Professor Muli Peleg at Rutgers University - discussing our potential partnership for our Campus & University Initiative.
Shared Communities Updates

The Environment Forum from the Baka al-Garbiyya - Menashe  partnership continues work on developing the Neighbors' Path, which will run through all the important stations and involve the greater community and educational system. 

The Art Center in Zalafe from the Megiddo - Ma'ale Eron  partnership is open to visitors and preparing for a new exhibition. A call has gone out to fund the joint development of Wadi Miska. 

In the  Zemer - Emek Hefer partnership, representatives of the Zemer leadership team visited the Ruppin Technological College to promote collaboration and the opening of new courses and training's for employment seekers with the goal of integrating them in the Emek Hefer Industrial Zone
Also in the Zemer - Emek Hefer partnership, junior high school principals from the two communities met to build a joint activity plan based on media and live meetings for the coming year.

Stay Connected!

Attend our Annual Shared Society Conference on May 24 
in  Israel -- find out more here!