As Israel experiences a major escalation of tensions in Jewish-Arab relations and violent clashes in mixed cities shared society organizations, grassroots movements, and local leadership are working to stem the violence and take initial steps toward healing and transformation.
Over the last few days, dozens of events and initiatives have amplified the voices of Jewish and Arab citizens calling for calm and solidarity and many Jewish and Arab citizens have taken to the streets in non-violent demonstrations. Many of these efforts are detailed in articles and social media. A few examples below:
Jewish and Arab Akko residents cleaning up together after clashes. Credit: Tag Meir
Jews and Arabs start to push back against violence, rallying nationwide -Times of Israel - Sue Surkes - May 14, 2021.
Arab, Jewish Activists Call for Calm Amid Violent Attacks in Israel's Mixed Cities - Haaretz - Haneen Shibli, Sheren Falah Saeb, Tamer Masudin, Yanal Jabarin and Maria Rashad - May 14, 2021
‘It looks dire but I’m hopeful’: Jewish and Arab coexistence activists respond to the violence in Israel’s streets - JTA - Ron Kampeas - May 13. 2021
Social Media Hashtags (Hebrew): #Neighbors_not enemies, #Love_the_other_as_yourself, #Jews_and Arabs refuse_to_be_enemies
@NoaShpigel on Twitter: feed with images and videos from Jewish-Arab demonstrations of solidarity
Additionally, many organizations are releasing statements and updates on their activities on social media in Hebrew and Arabic. Examples include: Co-Impact, Eight Negev shared society organizations, Tag Meir, Standing Together, Sikkuy, Neve Shalom/ Wahat Salam, along with many more organizations, shared society leaders and activists. Additionally, many civil society organizations and leaders have released joint statements underscoring their commitment to building a peaceful and constructive shared society. Two examples include a joint statement signed by dozens of NGO CEOs and a statement on the front page of Globes, an economic newspaper, siogned by hundreds of CEOs and entrepreneurs.
Below is a compilation of English-lanugage statements and commitments by Jewish and Arab leaders and shared society organizations. As questions grow about what will happen 'the day after', we believe these reflect the underlying current among leaders looking to restore and rebuild in the days ahead.
As more statements are released and activities occur, we will continue to update this post.
THE ABRAHAM INITIATIVES
May 12, 2021. Last night we saw unprecedented violence on the streets of Israel's mixed cities. In Lod, where our offices are based, the city resembled a war zone. This took place amid a barrage of rockets fired on central Israel and a massive bombing campaign on Gaza. The violence in the mixed cities has severely damaged Jewish-Arab relations and threatens to escalate further. As a part of our efforts to reduce tensions we released the below statement from a dozen elected officials in mixed cities calling for calm. It has been widely reported in the Israeli media, and represents an opportunity to push back against violence and chaos.
Statement from Elected Officials
"We council members, Jews and Arabs, in the mixed cities in Israel, call on the mayors of mixed cities, our partners in the councils and the general public do everything in their power to allow legal demonstrations by members of the minority group, to refrain from acts of violence and to engage in dialogue aimed at reducing the tensions among residents. We call on the public to refrain from posting explosive images and videos, and in particular disseminating fake news that could further inflame the area.
Adham Jamal, Vice Mayor, Acre Sherry Goldstein, Vice Mayor, Acre Fida Shahada, City Council Member, Lod Chen Arieli, Vice Mayor, Tel Aviv-Jaffa Meital Miriam Lehavi, Vice Mayor, Tel Aviv-Jaffa Adv. Moria Shlomot, City Council Member, Tel Aviv-Jaffa Sheli Dvir, City Council Member, Tel Aviv-Jaffa Shula Keshet, City Council Member, Tel Aviv-Jaffa Itay Pinkas Arad, City Council Member, Tel Aviv-Jaffa Sigal Weitzman Aharoni, City Council Member, Tel Aviv-Jaffa Naama Lazimi, City Council Member, Haifa Mino Abu Laban, City Council Member, Ramla Ronen Rothstein, City Council Member, Ramla"
May 13, 2021. This week has been difficult and challenging for all of us. For years, we have worked together; leading an organization of Arab and Jewish professionals who work to advocate for partnership, equality, and mutual respect. We have seen many crises and wars together; and each time we have managed to continue our dialogue and to listen to each other. We have held our team together and not lost sight of a shared future together. Many feel that this current rift is bigger than ever, and we all fear for the safety of our communities. So today, we are determined not to let violence and hostility seep into us, into AJEEC-NISPED. We are determined to fight against injustice, in any way possible. We will persist in raising the voice of the silent majority. Men and women, from all walks of life, who will persevere in the pursuit of a peaceful life together, for all of us. We will uphold the right of all our staff members, Arabs and Jews, to make their voices heard, to express their pain and protest; but we do not condone violence in any form. This is an emergency call to the leaders of this country, the local mayors and heads of authorities, our partners, and to all of our neighbors: we must maintain order, and we must resolve this crisis in the only possible way - through peace.
We, members of Co-Impact's Buisness Council, Arab and Jewish Leaders of the buisness sector, are working daily to promote equality and partnership between Arabs and Jews in the field of employment and other areas. We look today in pain and in anxiety at the current sscalation and deterioration of Jewish-Arab relations. Out of sincere and deep concern for the daily life and future of our children- we ask you to think about what brings us together and not what tears us apart, to strive for shared society and not anarchy, because only through mutual respect and mutual responsibility can we restore quiet and personal security, and grow as a healthy, positive, and diverse society. Together we will emerge from Eid al-Fitr and Shavuot strengthened and determined to restore order, restore relations, and find constructive and courageous and constructive ways to improve shared society in our country.
May 13, 2021. Challenging times are present in Israel these days. First, we would like to say that we condemn all violence that is expressed in our streets on both sides. Democratic protests are valid and acceptable but vandalism and violence are not the right vehicles for change – they never served us right in past and always led to misfortune and grief.
Working in an office or workplace that includes Arabs and Jews it feels weird to look at the news and realize you are not part of the general society experience. When rockets were fired in Natanya, one of our Arab worker calls and asks if we need a safe place to stay…that small but rather reflective interaction shows that we the people who work together daily– care about one another. We eat lunch together; laugh together we follow our families ups and downs. We recognize the different holidays we celebrate; we learn more about the different holidays and in general we share the space and goals of our collective success. These conditions are fundamental for shared living and they come naturally with time…
That is why when we go home and watch the news or worse when we go home and see the violence protests in our street, its hard for us to comprehend the contrast.
HAND IN HAND
May 14, 2021. Across Israel we are experiencing difficult and frightening days. Our sense of personal security has been undermined, as our streets fill with violence, racism, hatred, and fear. There is an atmosphere of war, exacting both physical and mental costs. We at Hand in Hand are also contending with difficult questions arising from the events of the past few days: questions about identity and belonging in the place where we grew up and where we live, and about how to continue operating as an Arab-Jewish community that is accepting, respectful, and committed to equality. These are precisely the times when the solidarity, understanding, and cooperation that we have built strengthens us and our families. As the largest Arab-Jewish network in Israel we have a crucial role now. In the face of violence, racism and militarism, we present a different model for Jewish-Arab relations in this country.
May 12. 2021 - Givat Haviva calls on the Jewish and Arab public, especially the residents of the mixed cities and our neighbors in the nearby localities, to avoid mutual harassment that harms the delicate fabric of the neighborhood in those localities. We call on the residents to take action to calm the area and the police to maintain maximum restraint in their dealings with the public.
Givat Haviva calls on the chiefs of neighboring Arab and Jewish authorities to once again build up the direct communication between them in the coming days, to work together to strengthen coordination to prevent further escalation in the future - there is no justification for harming innocent civilians! The public leaders in the two societies must work together to stop the escalation and violence. The political integration of Arab leaders who are citizens of Israel at the national level and in any future government that is formed, is in our eyes an essential tool for calming things down and ending the friction between the components of Israeli society
Givat Haviva calls on all parties to respect the holy places and the religious and social customs of all citizens of Israel, and to refrain from changing the rights and harming the worship centers of members of all religions: Muslims, Christians and Jews.
ISRAEL LGBTQ YOUTH MOVEMENT
In light of the revent events, we wish to begin by wishing all people health, security, peace, and equality. We should reach days when we can celebrate our religiouns and countires in a dignified, happy, and non-violent way. The design of a Liberal Jewish and Democratic identity in Israel is engaged in our organizaiton's DNA. We are proud to be working with great effort in promoting democratic values in Israel's society, and in bringing Arabs, Jews, and all Israeli society closer together.
In the coming week, we will be working on deescalating the situation together with the local leadership, our field staff and partners on the ground, and providing a response to the urgent needs of the community, such as: evacuation of a number of families from the community and accommodations for them outside of Lod, expediting the fixing of the electricity infrastructure in the neighborhood, and more.
After the fire will subside, we will need to assit and lead the local communities to recovery. It is going to be a long journey. We continue to be committed, together with you, in rebuilding hope, community and safety in Lod. There is no other way.
We at Kav Mashve express our deep concerns in light of the difficult days we are going through right now Days of war. Sounds of destruction and hatred flood the streets. Severe violence harms the delicate foundation of a life together. The sights are unbearable. Kav Masvhe works to promote coexistence through joint employment, mutual respoect and equality by raising awareness as well as brining together and connecting Jews and Arabs within the work place. We call for rational voices to make themselves heard in these times and ask the enire public to return to the path of partnership and to hold our hands together to stop the cycnle of violence. We look forward to seeing the reestablished and strenthened relationships between all parts of society.
These have been a very difficult few days for our community in Israel. Together with my colleagues, Yasrin Dakwar, Principal Al Carma Science School, Lilach Shani Romano, Principal Ironi Gimel High School and Mendi Rabinowitz, Principal, Hebrew Reali School, we formulated the following statement. As educators, committed to the helping our students create a peaceful, exciting, and positive future we felt that we must give voice to what so many are feeling. I am gratified that more than 99% of Haifa area High School principals affirmed this important message. I hope you will join and our entire Leo Baeck Haifa community in prayers for peace and healing.
Since the founding of Tsofen- a joint initative of Jews and Arabs- in 2008, we have faithfully carried the batter of shared society and mutual understanding As in the past, we continue to condemn any action or attempt intended to hurt the effort of building a shared Jewish-Arab society. Tsofen's management and staff- Arabs and Jews- and our partners in Israel and abroad, remain committed to pursing our mission: building a shared society by integrating Arab talents to the high-tech industry in Israel, and by developing advanced technological industries in Arab society. Bringing Arab society to partake in Israel's economic growth, and promoting innovation in Arab society- that is the common mission of us all, benefiting our shared future.
UNIVERSITY OF HAIFA
Following the recent internecine violence in cities such as Lod, Ramla, and even Haifa, we remain inspired by the University of Haifa. For 50 years, the University of Haifa has served as a model of peaceful coexistence for Jews ans Arabs. Now more than ever the university must continue to serve as a beacon of hope for both Israel and the wider region and demonstrate that respectful discourse, inclusivity, and collaboration are indeed possible.