NIF unveiled an impressive range of Arab-Jewish shared living initiatives and a touching photo exhibit during a Knesset Education Committee session on shared living on Tuesday. The session, which was initiated by NIF, drew MKs from across the political spectrum who joined NIF President Talia Sasson and Israel Executive Director Mickey Gitzin.
MK Yakov Margi from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party opened the session by saying, “We have disputes with NIF on other issues but on this issue we are the first to line up with them. We must promote the study of Arabic so that we can all speak with each other. If we respect each other then we will be a stronger society with better values.”
Also present, were representatives of dozens of social change organizations including the 35 organizations being awarded grants for shared living initiatives as part of a call for proposals recently issued by NIF.
The session opened with a photo exhibit entitled “Human Warmth,” prepared by NIF in cooperation with veteran NIF grantee Mossawa –The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel. The exhibit, which has been touring the country, documents and depicts the joint humanitarian efforts of Israel’s Jews and Arabs during the forest fires that swept the country in the fall of 2016.
Gitzin told the Knesset committee, “The future of Israeli society is based on shared living between Jews and Arabs. This is the basis for an enlightened Israel and we have to make sure that this will indeed be the future.”
Gitzin presented the Education Committee with data from a public opinion poll commissioned last year, which found that 97% of Israeli Arabs and 67% of Israeli Jews thought that activities to promote coexistence and shared living between Jews and Arabs were vital to Israel.
He added that the call for proposals for organizations to submit bids for Arab-Jewish shared living grants had attracted over 350 applications and described them as initiatives that strove for better shared society for everybody in Israel. 10% of the applications were from formal and informal educational institutions proposing the programs that bring Arab and Jewish young people together.
“This struggle,” Gitzin added, “represents the desire of Israelis to live together in a better shared future.”