The Fourth Annual Givat Haviva Shared Society Conference addressed the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian divergence and the impact it has upon citizens of both lands through the theme “Implications of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict on Common Citizens for Jews and Arabs in Israel.” Following an official welcome from Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and a message American President Barack Obama, Givat Haviva’s Executive Director Yaniv Sagee took to the podium.
Sagee’s comments were pointed, powerful, and articulate as he searched fervently for hope in the midst of his frustration concerning a breakdown, once again, of peace talks. With more than three hundred people in attendance, Sagee spoke open the need for a shared society and gave numerous examples of past leaders who promoted love and respect as opposed to resentment and violence.
Within the address, the names Confucius and Martin Luther King Jr. were juxtaposed with the contemporary crisis facing the region. Quoting King, Sagee said, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” He noted that those who are not ready to live with Arabs in Israel endanger Israel’s future.
The purpose of the conference was to have like-minded individuals meet and strive for a communal solution to the rift between Arabs and Jews. Givat Haviva emphasizes the power of a shared society as an alternative to bloodshed. By detailing commonalities between peoples, the organization strives to remind all who live in Israel that they are members of a connected partnership that can either continue on the long, desperate path to destruction or find a peaceful solution that ensures dignity for all.