Shared Living in a Mixed City
2nd Conference in the Series — November 19-21, 2013
Konrad Adenauer Conference Center, Mishkenot Sha’ananim, Jerusalem
This was the second year that The Jerusalem Foundation, Adam Institute for Democracy and Peace and Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies joined together to hold an annual international conference that addressed opportunities and obstacles for residents of mixed cities. The “Shared Living in a Mixed City” conference showcased fieldwork and academic studies from Israel and across the world, which aim at exploring the basic problems facing the different populations that live in mixed cities. Each plenary examined a different field of interest of activity within the urban space, including representation in decision-making processes; political culture, commerce and the economy; culture, art and crafts; competitive and amateur sports; youth-related problems and challenges; sustainability and the environment; accessibility to municipal services; and conflict resolution strategies. The conference plenaries were held in Hebrew and Arabic (with simultaneous translation), and the keynote lectures were held in English.
Greetings: Mark Sofer, President of The Jerusalem Foundation; Nadim Shiban, Chair of the Organizing Committee; Dr. Uki Maroshek-Klarman, Academic Director of Adam Institute for Democracy and Peace; Meir Kraus, Director of the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies; Ruth Cheshin, Former President of The Jerusalem Foundation. Moderator: Uri Dromi, Director General of the Jerusalem Press Club – JPC. Guest Lecturer: Justice (Emerita) Dalia Dorner, the Supreme Court of Israel. Musical Performance: Trio Transit – Mira Awad, Joca Perpignan, Marck Kakon
Uri Dromi introduced the rationale behind the conference and thanked the conference organizers.
Mark Sofer noted the appropriate timing of the conference, close to the International Day of Tolerance. He described the mixed city of Jerusalem, stating that the human mosaic that comprises it is what makes it one of the most fascinating cities in the world, yet is not without its problems. He highlighted the work of The Jerusalem Foundation for 45 years to help the different populations coexist with a minimum of tension and conflict, and to give each of them the feeling that the city is its home. He thanked those who made this conference possible – the Hamburg Foundation for the Promotion of Science and Culture, founded and directed by Prof. Dr. Jan-Philipp Reemtsma, and The Jerusalem Foundation’s conference partners – Adam Institute, the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies and Mishkenot Sha’ananim.
Nadim Shiban expressed his disagreement with the view of Jerusalem as a role model for coexistence, as our city is conflicted and torn apart. Life in East Jerusalem are not simple, there are neglected peripheries of residents who do not take an active role in city life. Mr. Shiban declared it our duty to turn the city into a true role model for other cities in Israel and across the world.
Dr. Uki Maroshek-Klarman described the fascinating journey of preparing and organizing the conference, and said that its goal was both to serve as a role model of cooperation for other organizations and to create integrative panels that give expression to different positions and representatives – an encounter between the academic world and the field, and mutual learning.
Meir Kraus highlighted the uniqueness of Jerusalem among mixed cities, due to its complex history, spiritual significance and unclear future, and stated that the ideas that will be raised for discussion in this conference could impact how the human landscape is designed in mixed cities.
Ruth Cheshin concluded the greetings by sharing her personal experience as a child in a mixed city, and emphasized the need for early education for coexistence, starting from the 1st grade and perhaps earlier. The goal is to make it clear to children that it is not just their city, but that there are many diverse groups that the city belongs to as well, with the hope that it would make shared life as adults easier.
Justice (Emerita) Dalia Dorner then delivered an introductory lecture, which explored the concept of mixed cities from the legal perspective, going back to the days prior to the establishment of Israel and to the Declaration of Independence. She discussed the concepts of the “Jewishness” of the state and the promised protection of the rights of minorities as expressed in the Declaration, which states that Israel “will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants” and “will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex”. Through a case study of a litigation demanding signage in Arabic in mixed cities, she explored the difference between individual and collective rights. She expressed her views that the rights of minorities include both individual and collective rights, and that those have yet to be fully achieved.
“In order to live in peace and to uphold the interests of the state, it is our duty to ensure in practice equal rights for education and a good life,” she went on to say. “In order to remedy the inequality, we must act also in the civil society channel, and not just the governmental channel. Civic organizations can contribute to bringing people together… If citizens on both sides will come closer and act to have others do the same, it will have an impact on the governmental institutions. Thus, we’ll have the benefit of having a truly mixed city, with two communities living together in mutual respect and understanding.”
Trio Transit – Mira Awad, Joca Perpignan, Marck Kakon followed up Judge Dorner’s lecture with a wonderful multicultural musical performance, which concluded the opening session of the conference.
First Plenary: Representativeness in Mixed Cities
Chair: Prof. Nisim Mizrahi, Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Tel Aviv University. Speakers: Leah Shakdiel, Sapir College; Jafar Farah, Director of Musawa; Prof. David Heyd, Department of Philosophy, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Leah Shakdiel spoke of the southern town of Yeruham, an “inbetween place” where the rural lifestyle of the first generation of residents, immigrants from villages in North Africa, is contradicted by the second and third generations’ urban aspirations and planning policies. The picture is complicated by the more recent arrival of different population groups such as immigrants from the former USSR and ultra-orthodox and national religious groups, competing for dominance of their values (e.g., religious vs. secular) and the town’s resources. Although some sectorial groups achieve dominance and representation, the voice of one major group remains silenced – that of women.
Jafar Farah gave an overview of the history of mixed cities in Israel, focusing on the historical rights of the Palestinian minority and their lack of representation when it comes to decision making in mixed cities. Representation, if it exists, has a religious aspect, alienating secular Arabs. He stressed that mixed cities’ can become a facilitating factor in ending the ongoing conflict and promoting economic, social and regional development. However, for this to happen, the historical rights of the Palestinians and the injustice done to them must be first acknowledged, and the planning and management of the city and its spaces must include the Palestinian Israelis within it (as well as representatives of other identity sectors).
Prof. David Heyd criticized the current decision making method of “majority rules”, and suggested an alternative system of lottery voting as a means for minorities to also have their voices heard. This mechanism could potentially improve representativeness, contribute towards a feeling of partnership and belonging among minorities, and reduce their frustration.
Prof. Nisim Mizrahi concluded by presenting the perspective of minorities and lower-SES individuals on the liberal vision and values, stressing that their fear of change or of losing their collective identity pushes groups towards exclusion and insularity. It may be that, to achieve true integration in mixed cities, clear-cut identity borders between groups should be outlined.
Second Plenary: Political Culture, Commerce and the Economy in Mixed Cities
Chair: Dr. Asmahan Masry-Herzalla, The College for Academic Studies, Or-Yehuda. Speakers: Dr. Isaac Dahan, Achva College and Ben-Gurion University; Noa Kaufman, Coordinator for Refugee and Asylum Seeker Workers, Kav LaOved; Mike Prashker, Director, Merchavim – Institute for the Advancement of Shared Citizenship in Israel; Rabbi Bezalel Cohen, head of an Ultra-Orthodox high-school yeshiva
Dr. Masry-Herzalla presented her study on internal migration to Jerusalem by Palestinian Israelis, motivated by the city’s higher education opportunities and its job market, primarily in the fields of education, law and social work. As their numbers increase and as they establish families, they experience more and more difficulties related to housing and the education of their children, especially when those reach high school age and encounter the language barrier.
Dr. Dahan delivered a critical analysis of Rabinowitz and Abu Baker’s two models of local Palestinian Israeli leadership. One, associated with the older generation born into the reality of Israel, is pragmatic and uses personal relationships to solve problems on a local scale. The other, born in or after the 1960s, is better educated, politically aware and with a more radical, systematic approach. Dr. Dahan revised this model by stressing the value of the older generation’s leadership and achievements, and insisting that an analysis of Jewish-Arab relations in mixed cities should also take into account the personal life stories, experiences and relationships of local leaders.
Noa Kaufman shed light on the situation of asylum seekers and refugees in the south of Tel Aviv, reviewing relevant categories of legal status and rights. Although they do not have legal work permits, asylum seekers nevertheless must work in order to survive. They are employed in menial jobs, for minimal pay and live in terrible conditions. This leads to a powder keg situation that cannot be resolved without addressing their plight.
Rabbi Bezalel Cohen focused on the Ultra-Orthodox (haredi) Jewish minority in Israel and its relationship with Israeli society as a whole, highlighting parallel trends of insularity on the one hand and integration on the other. Providing examples related to the integration of Haredi Jews into secular work environments, IDF, and academic institution, he demonstrated these trends also within the process of integration itself (e.g., special Haredi battalions adapted to their special religious needs vs. integration into the general forces). He cautioned against forcing integration and further suggested that the optimal strategy involves the combination of both trends.
Mike Prashker highlighted the positive impact of a Merchavim program integrating Arab teachers into Jewish schools. While retaining the separate and distinct identities of both sides, this integration strategy reduces unemployment amongst Arab teachers, provides opportunities for encounter that transcend the school to affect the community as a whole, and contributes to the self-image of the Arab students who study in mixed or Jewish schools.
Third Plenary: Culture and the Arts in Mixed Cities
Chair: Eyal Sher, Director of the Arts & Culture Department, The Jerusalem Foundation. Speakers: Dr. Tal Ben Zvi, Vice-president of Bezalel; Marlyn Vinig, Phd. candidate, Researcher of Haredi Cinema in Israel, Bar Ilan University; Dafna Lichtman, Director of the Cultural Center for Work Immigrants in the south of Tel Aviv; Muhammad Jabali, Coordinator of The Jaffa Project – Autobiography of a City, Ayam Association.
Eyal Sher, drawing on his extensive experience in fundraising for arts and culture programs, pointed to a basic obstacle faced by artists and fundraisers alike: culture is perceived as a luxury, to be pushed aside for more “urgent” needs. He argued that culture is important in its own right, not just for its contribution to education and to the community.
Dr. Tal Ben Zvi discussed multiculturalism in the context of arts, culture and the representation of minorities in mixed cities: should they be represented through separate “minority” cultural organizations and institutions, for example, or through obtaining key positions in “general” cultural organizations and institutes? She analyzed Palestinian art in the mixed seaport cities of Acre, Jaffa and Haifa as addressing both history (the Nakbeh) and the present condition, and drew attention to the municipal policies that enable the flourishing of art in those cities (compared to other mixed cities, like Ramle-Lod).
Marlyn Vinig addressed the growing success and the special needs and limitations of filmmaking and culture creation in general in the Haredi sector in Israel. Despite the difficulties she encountered with establishing special courses for theater studies for Haredi women, she was able to promote the role of such women as cultural agents in the field of cinema. She revealed how female filmmakers adhering to a set of rigorous rules—yet maintaining high production values—facilitated the great breakthrough of Haredi cinema, both outward, to the general public, and within the Haredi community itself, creating a new genre of cinema and a new and expanding audience of female Haredi viewers.
Dafna Lichtman explained how The Garden Library for Refugees and Migrant Workers (located in Lewinsky Park, in the south of Tel Aviv) addresses the long-neglected individual and collective rights of these residents: the rights to education, art, and education, which are not lesser in importance than other rights. The Library, which started out as a project with a narrow focus, has become a cultural, educational and creative center for the community of refugees and immigrants in the area as well as for the other residents, with musical performances, theatre productions and training courses.
Muhammad Jabali cautioned against the view of Arab culture as a minority culture, given that it’s the culture of the majority in our region. He then described the historical trajectory of Palestinian culture in what are now the mixed cities of Israel, from thriving cultural centers prior to the establishment of Israel, to communities struggling to express their culture. Furthermore, he protested that municipalities like that of Haifa “import” culture and art from Tel Aviv and marginalize the local Arab culture, which has recently been flourishing as a subculture in a positive process of Arabization.
Fourth Plenary: Sport in a Mixed City
Chair: Dror Rubin, Director, Sports Department at Gevim. Speakers: Judge (ret.) Amnon Straschnov, Former Chairman, Council for the Prevention of Violence in Sports; Zoheir Bahalul, sports broadcaster and journalist; Munder Khalaila, Spokesperson of Bnei Sakhnin FC; Orna Ostfeld, Founder and coach of the Ramat HaSharon women’s basketball team. Keynote lecture: Prof. Bruno Coppieters, Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
Dror Rubin lamented the frequent exclusion of sports from cultural and academic discourse, as well as the sometimes negative impact of the increasing passion within the population for sports, football in particular. He raised a question for discussion: can sports advance culture?
Judge (ret.) Amnon Straschnov highlighted the efforts of the Council for the Prevention of Violence in Sports to address negative phenomena such as racist shouts and other inappropriate behavior, and described the three main tools used for that purpose: education, enforcement, and punishment. He argued that: 1) parents should be made more aware of their educational role and authority in this respect; 2) law and order should be enforced more strictly during games, e.g., using undercover police officers and removing potential offenders; and 3) special judges for sports-related issues should be appointed.
Orna Ostfeld reviewed the history of women in sports, from ancient times up to the present. Although discrimination against women in sports has considerably decreased, women in sports are still marginalized and suffer from negative stereotypes, making women less likely to enjoy the mental and physical benefits of sports. This situation can and should be addressed, for example though legislation like the 1972 “Title Nine” of the United States Code, according to which for every male sports team being established, an equivalent female team should be established as well.
Zoheir Bahalul spoke about his dream that the recent achievements of the Arab football players in the field, as part of the Israeli national team, would have a positive impact on the situation and treatment of Israeli Arabs beyond sports. Unfortunately, that dream has not yet become a reality – the Arab minority is excluded in all areas except sports, where they have significant representation. Football in particular has become an arena for cooperation and coexistence, with the positive impact of the Bnei Sakhnin FC, which has won the national cup and is the first Arab group in the Israeli major league.
Munder Khalaila revealed the secret behind Bnei Sakhnin FC’s success: its focus on the value of mutual respect and its strategy of inclusion: Arab, Jewish, Muslim and Druze players and staff are all treated as part of the team. He stressed the importance of identifying with the other’s pain and respecting the other’s feelings, whether it is the Arab players in the FC honoring the Israeli anthem or the memory of the Holocaust, or the Jewish players paying visits to the mourning Arab families who lost loved ones in the October 2000 riots. Despite obstacles like financial problems and racism, the FC has become a successful example for the positive impact sports can have on Israeli society.
Prof. Bruno Coppieters closed the first day of the conference with a keynote lecture presenting a comparative analysis of city marathons in the mixed cities of Belfast, Beirut and Jerusalem. The Jerusalem marathon was characterized by political dispute before it even began, he concluded, since the organizers neglected to include all population groups in the decision making process and the values they sought to promote through their choice of the marathon’s route were non-inclusive. Prof. Coppieters’ full presentation is available for download in PDF format.
Fifth Plenary: Youth in Mixed Cities
Chair: Dr. Uki Maroshek, Academic Director, Adam Institute for Democracy & Peace. Keynote lecture: Prof. Madeleine Leonard, School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, Queen’s University, Belfast. Speakers: Dr. Zvi Bekerman, School of Education at Melton Center, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Attorney Lana Warwar, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Anat (Aynitu) Atalay, Director of Higher Education for Youth at HaGag Youth Center in Netanya and Youth Coordinator at Kidum Noar, Netanya.
Prof. Madeleine Leonard opened the plenary with a keynote lecture focusing on the way young people experience daily life in the divided city of Belfast. Although the Belfast peace accords were signed 15 years ago, youth born into the new reality still feel suspicion and hostility towards youth from the “other side”. Leonard described their experiences, which reflect tight-knit territorial boundaries as a core underlying principal influencing the perception and use of everyday space, as well as the myriad ways in which young people manage space in contested environments and the strategies they utilize to maintain and bridge the boundaries that shape their everyday lives.
Dr. Zvi Bekerman discussed integration in education in light of political and psychological theories and terms such as social cohesion, assimilation, “separate but equal” policies and Contact Theory, stressing that shared schooling or encounters between groups are useless when not based on a premise of equality. He then summarized his research and findings regarding bilingual schools in Israel, comprising in total some 1,000 students, which demonstrate that true, symmetrical integration is possible, especially when an effort is made to present the historical, social and political narratives of both sides.
Attorney Lana Warwar shared her personal experiences of life in mixed cities, throughout her childhood in Nazareth, as well as her studies and work in Jerusalem. Her work as legal advisor to at-risk youth in Jerusalem has made her realize that East Jerusalem youth’s use of such services is limited. In Jerusalem, although the city is often described as mixed, Jewish and Arab youth, like their adult counterparts, rarely meet one another in day-to-day life, although they often deal with similar problems and issues of identity and problematic background factors. Warwar stated her belief that change should begin with these youth, through education.
Anat (Aynitu) Atalay, who came to Israel from Ethiopia as a child and now serves as a youth coordinator and counsellor, referred to the plight of Ethiopian Israeli youth. These youth feel isolated and excluded at school, sitting at back benches and forming social relationships mostly with other Ethiopian youth. Many of their problems are related to their difficult socio-economic status, but also to issues of identity and belonging. Atalay stressed the importance of programs for such youth that focus on identity consolidation and parental involvement, which she implements through her work.
Dr. Uki Maroshek reported on one of Adam Institute’s programs for high schools, aimed at educating against racism. She formulated recommendations for non-radical programs interested in making a positive change from within the existing formal education system: 1) work in joint clusters of Jewish-Arab schools; 2) do not settle for equality, but rather try to reverse the power relations between the groups (e.g., having Bedouin children teach Jewish children Arabic), at least some of the time; 3) ensure that there are no “invisible people” at the school (e.g., by holding an encounter with cleaning and maintenance staff); 4) plan the routes of school trips to include sites of conflict and/or coexistence.
Sixth Plenary: “Providing Service” – Municipal Services in Mixed Cities
Chair: Dr. Hagit Peres, Ashkelon Academic College. Speakers: Attorney Orly Erez-Likhovski, Israel Religious Action Center; Attorney Gil Gan Mor, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel; Liana Nabeel, Projects Director, Jerusalem Inter-cultural Center.
Attorney Orly Erez-Likhovski gave an overview of the history of the exclusion of women and gender segregation as the result of growing religious extremism in Israel in recent years, with a focus on the town of Beit Shemesh and the tensions between the secular and ultra-orthodox communities there. She discussed the conflict between respect for the religious culture of one sector (multiculturalism) and the rights of women in that sector, as well as the legal struggles against discrimination and their results.
Attorney Gil Gan Mor substantiated the need for special conditions in tenders for services issued by municipalities in mixed cities through a case study of Jaffa, and in particular an appeal by the local residents against a construction tender issued for an area at the heart of Ajami neighborhood. He concluded that the local authorities’ real-estate policies and push towards gentrification of the city are perceived as a concrete threat by the local population, and urged for the development of more culturally-sensitive planning tools and policies.
Liana Nabeel addressed the difficulties the residents of East Jerusalem face when it comes to solving problems related to environmental hazards and other infrastructure issues, due to lack of awareness of their rights and of options for contact with the responsible authorities. She presented the “Mini Active” project, which strives for socio-ecological partnership between the population and the related organizations and municipal institutions. Some 1,000 local female volunteers work in smaller action groups to raise awareness of rights and services amongst the population and locate and report issues and problems to the authorities, serving as mediators and working hand in hand with to find solutions.
Dr. Hagit Peres touched on the conflicts and dilemmas raised by the previous speakers. Speaking from her experience as a Jewish resident of the southern town of Arad, she emphasized that health services in particular should be better adapted to the local Bedouin population, women and children in particular, so as to better suit their needs. Peres then urged women to become more active in making a change for the better in their environment, and presented examples successful female activism.
Seventh Plenary: Sustainability and Environment in Mixed Cities
Chair: Valerie Brachia, Lecturer in Environmental Policy and Planning at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University and the Interdisciplinary College Herzliya, and a research associate at Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies. Speakers: M.K. Dr. Dov Khenin, Chairperson of the Knesset’s social-environmental lobby; Dr. Yodan Rofe, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Ben Gurion University – How Urbanism Supports Diversity, and Why Diversity Is Essential for Sustainable Urbanism; Najwa Farhat, Director of Ahmed Sameh Boys Middle School Abu Tor; Tsah Yahav, Manager of Educational & Coexistence Programs, The Jerusalem Foundation.
Valerie Brachia delineated the theoretical principles behind the concept of sustainability and the potential impact of sustainability considerations on decision making in various fields. An agenda focused on the environment and on sustainability can serve as a source of conflict between population groups, but it can also be an opportunity for joint, ground-breaking activism.
M.K. Dr. Dov Khenin referred to sustainability as an alternative model to the topographic model and to capitalism, which have led to progress but also to many problems (e.g., overproduction, strain on the environment). He emphasized that societal and environmental issues are inextricably linked, using examples from the mixed cities of Acre, Jaffa, and Tel Aviv, and suggested that the so-called challenges of mixed cities could be thought of as opportunities. For example, African immigrants should not be treated as a problem, but rather as a community that can contribute to our work force and culture.
Dr. Yodan Rofe, using anthropological theories such as those of Diamond and Jacobs, explained why diversity and city planning that allows for it are essential for sustainable urbanism. He pointed to faults in city planning in Israel, and outlined correct planning principles based on scientific studies, including dense, non-hierarchical building, easily accessed streets, and prioritization of pedestrians and low-speed driving. City planning should focus on societal as well as environmental issues, identifying the potential of significant locations and ensuring openness and accessibility for all communities within the city.
Tsah Yahav spoke about The Jerusalem Foundation’s large-scale environmental education program, in collaboration with The Green Net, which is implemented at schools throughout Jerusalem. The program, combines an innovative rainwater catchment system, educational support and guidance for students and teachers, and the establishment of groups of students that will serve as “environment prefects”. The program’s “green” schools, Jewish and Arab, religious and secular, all form a network of students, teachers and principals who study and work together to promote sustainability.
Najwa Farhat provided her perspective as the principal of an Arab school located in a mixed neighborhood in Jerusalem, Abu Tor, which implements several successful sustainability projects. These projects are often done in cooperation with Jewish schools, and promote sustainability, coexistence, and student entrepreneurship. Some examples include an environmental leadership project involving joint planting of trees, an award-winning rain catchment project, an ecological school garden, and a hothouse.
Closing Plenary: Conflict Resolution in Mixed Cities – Acre
In memory of Prof. Yaacov Bar-Siman-Tov, former Director of Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies
Chairs: Prof. Yitzhak Reiter and Lior Lehrs, Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies. Speakers: Abbas Zakur, former M.K.; Yossi Pitusi, member of the Keshet Group in Acre (formerly a community center director and council member and currently); Sabaa Sayed, Deputy Head of the Local Education Authority for the Promotion of the Arab Education System in Acre.
Prof. Yitzhak Reiter suggested Acre as a case study of dialogic solutions and initiatives in a mixed city. Providing a brief overview of Acre’s recent history, he raised several questions for the discussants to address: What tensions exist in the city? Should we worry about a repeat of 2008 events? Which option is better, a mixed city with separate neighborhood or integrative, mixed neighborhoods? What mechanisms of dialogue and conflict resolution exist in the city today, and what’s desired for the future?
Prof. Reiter and Yonatan Bar-Siman-Tov, son of Prof. Yaacov Bar-Siman-Tov, dedicated the plenary to the memory of Prof. Bar-Siman-Tov, a leading expert in conflict resolution and coexistence studies.
Lior Lehrs identified sources of dispute and tension in the city: the recent demographic changes, the newly-established hesder yeshiva, waqf properties like mosques and Khan Al-Omdan, issues of daily life in shared buildings, and the effects of national-scale events. The 2008 riots led to a crisis and the loss of trust between the city’s population groups, yet also prompted significant efforts aimed at repairing the damage and creating an improved relationship between these groups: the alliance between Shimon Lankri and Adham Jamal (who later won the municipal elections together), a youth parliament, the Keshet Group, and dialogue between religious leaders such as Rabbi Yosef and Imam Assi.
Abbas Zakur stated his belief that Acre demonstrates that there is a place for everyone, of any religion or nationality, except for extremists who refuse to allow a place for others. He stressed that, without including in the decision making minority groups such as Arabs and Russian immigrants, no one can win the municipal elections in Acre. Similarly, to avoid conflict, the physical, social, educational and religious needs of all groups must be addressed (e.g., mosques, community centers, land allocation). In his view, both sides had to reach out to one another after the 2008 events, and have done so.
Yossi Pitusi pointed out that mixed cities are a spreading phenomenon in Israel, and that we must understand it and address its implications. The violent events of 2008 in Acre served as a wake up call for many, though the file was closed and each side still sticks to its own narrative. He spoke of the Jewish-Arab Keshet Group, of which he is a member, established to promote a shared life in the city and to reduce tensions, and mentioned in addition that good governance is an important tool in avoiding such tensions.
Sabaa Sayed praised the current municipal policies, which address residents’ needs, promote equality, and support her efforts to improve Arab education in Acre. Though tensions and problems still exist, this makes dialogue and education for coexistence possible. She stressed the importance of programs such as “Ya Salaam” in Acre, which teach Jewish kids Arabic and Arab culture.
The conference was made possible thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation and the generous support of Prof. Dr. Jan-Philipp Reemstma, the Hamburg Foundation for the Promotion of Science and Culture