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Voices of Hope

Six months ago we witnessed the most horrific inter-community violence in Israel in two decades.

In Israel’s mixed cities – where Jews and Arabs live together in shared spaces – neighbours turned on each other. We saw Jewish mobs roaming the streets of Haifa looking for Arabs to assault. In Lod, Arab mobs torched synagogues, stores and cars.

At the time, NIF issued an open call for proposals to bolster and energise those working toward a shared society and to publicly reaffirm the central role that Jewish-Arab partnership plays in the defence of Israel’s liberal democracy.

Almost 600 proposals were submitted – a response demonstrating that every part of Israeli society understood the gravity of the challenge facing the country.

Last week NIF announced the 22 projects we will be supporting with the 1 million shekel “Voices of Hope” fund. Projects will be funded from the north to the south: working with artists and municipal leaders, harnessing the power of hi-tech and collaborating with Arab leaders to take a deeper role in media and culture.

In Australia, we’re proud to be fully funding three of the new projects:

  1. The establishment of a Jewish-Arab ‘tzedek centre’ in Ramle, run by Hashomer Hatzair. The sixth in the network of centres, the new Ramle hub will bring together young Jewish and Arab leaders from the city, give them the skills and tools to work together for a brighter future, easing tensions in the city to get them out of the cycle of violence and marginalisation, to ultimately serve as leaders in Ramle and Israel more broadly.
  2. A pilot program to send bilingual, cross-cultural counsellors into the health sector to reduce the stress and tension of working in a shared Jewish-Arab environment. While particularly important during flare ups like those we saw in May, the unique nature of Israel’s health system – where Jews and Arabs work side by side in challenging circumstances – means these programs have important value in the long-term. The pilot will start in an aged care home, a hospital and a health fund clinic in the country’s north and then spread to other areas of the country.
  3. An economic development programme for Bedouin to create a tourism infrastructure in the Negev. Through Jewish-Bedouin cooperation, the program will promote development, particularly in ‘unrecognised’ villages where employment opportunities are limited.

In a year of challenges and opportunities, NIF’s voice in Israel – promoting a shared and equal future for all – is more important than ever. 

NIF’s Voices of Hope projects are ambitious, creative and innovative grants which will help realise our shared vision for Israeli society.