This week NIF organized a major public event to celebrate the recent 40 emergency grants awarded to organizations promoting Jewish-Arab partnership and the notion that Israel should be a shared society in which all of its citizens feel an equal sense of belonging. These awards have been given to a huge variety of activities, including a project to teach Arab and Jewish schoolchildren storytelling skills, an effort to bring Jews and Arabs together around dinner tables, and a training seminar teaching Jewish and Arab tour guides how to run dual-narrative tours.
The event, which was held in Jaffa, was attended by over 200 activists and NGO representatives. After an opportunity for networking, everyone gathered for a fascinating panel discussion about Jewish-Arab cooperation, which featured Robi Damelin from the Parents’ Circle, Sikkuy co-director Rawnak Natour, and prominent Israeli-Arab actor Norman Issa (who spoke about the Jewish-Arab Theatre in Jaffa). There was also a performance from the Jaffa Arab-Jewish Choir, and Norman Issa performed a short sketch from his new one-man play.
The event came at a time when Jewish-Arab relations in Israel are yet again under strain following the recent shootings in Tel Aviv, and the government’s harsh rhetoric in response – which included speeches questioning the loyalty of Israel’s Arab citizens. The need for the work these emergency grantees is more urgent than ever, and underscores NIF’s decision to make developing a shared society one of our focus areas.