Dedicated to Partnership and Service: Our Members’ Stories and Actions
The terrible and horrific events of the past weeks have touched all of our members in a direct and personal way. Still, the peacebuilding community has continued to dedicate themselves to partnership and service, helping those most in need of assistance at this critical time. Here are a few examples of the critical work they are doing:
🟠 Alongside the community center of Rahat, ALLMEP members Itach Maaki (Women Lawyers for Social Justice) and Desert Stars have established the first ever Arab-Jewish Emergency Center. They have been delivering vital aid, food baskets, assistance, and legal counsel to the Bedouin society in the Negev. Every day, dozens of volunteers from these organizations come together in the joint operations room in Rahat to pack food baskets for needy families from both the Bedouin and Jewish communities in the region. The often-neglected Bedouin community has been severely impacted by the war. They suffered dozens of casualties, including children: dead, missing, and wounded. Many villages lack shelters and emergency alarm systems, leaving them vulnerable. Watch this video to learn more about the Emergency Center.
🟠 AJEEC-NISPED, in partnership with the Shared Emergency Center for the Negev Bedouins, is managing an array of volunteers, social-emotional responses, informal education activities, and a diverse set of services to the Bedouin residents of the Negev. They set up and are running 50 emergency shelter buildings for the Bedouins in the Negev.
You can learn more about the impact of the war on the Bedouin community in this article.
🟠 Tzedek Centers is a grassroots movement of local activist communities, conducting leadership programs training citizens to join together and work to promote change in their communities and cities. Since last week, they have coordinated over 80 joint projects with a multitude of organizations to assist communities in Israel, especially the South and in mixed cities across the land, providing urgent assistance including hosting evacuated families as well as collecting donations, operating public aid hotlines, and providing emotional and educational support. Additionally they have organized their impact forum for shared society to take proactive action for preventing outbreaks of violence within Israel.
🟠 ALLMEP staff in the West Bank, some with family in Gaza, have teamed up with several Palestinian members and leaders in the West Bank in helping hundreds of workers from Gaza who have been stranded since Saturday. There is a dire need and ALLMEP is supporting the effort to get them bedding and food, and to provide much needed solidarity, as they are stranded from their families and with no ideas of their condition, nor when they can be reunited.
🟠 Last week, 26 organizations, among them ALLMEP members Itach Maaki, Combatants for Peace, Mehazkim, Women Wage Peace, Standing Together, Parents Circle – Families Forum, and Rabbis for Rabbis for Human Rights, signed on to a petition standing in solidarity in shock at the heinous crimes committed by Hamas, but also stating their majority of their institutions include Israeli and Palestinian crews, and thus many have relatives and colleagues in Gaza, living under the attack of the Israeli army. The petition stayed “now too, even now, we must hold on to the moral and human standing, and not slip into despair and desire for revenge. Faith in the human spirit, in the good within it, has become more necessary than ever. One thing is clear for us now: we will not give up faith in the spirit of humanity, faith in humanity, even on these days when things are more difficult than before”. Read the full statement.
🟠 Our member Standing Together, a Jewish-Arab movement for peace, equality and social justice in Israel, has taken multiple actions since October 7th. They circulated an urgent demand for the release of all hostages as the Israeli government’s priority. As of early November, the petition has over 20,000 signatures. They opened solidarity groups in mixed areas across the country, aimed at monitoring and alleviating local tensions. They also set up “the hotline for Jewish-Arab solidarity” to respond to cases of racially motivated harassment and dismissal from the workplace. They have been hosting emergency Jewish-Arab solidarity conventions in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Haifa and Baqa al-Gharbiyye with hundreds in attendance – by Jewish and Palestinian citizens – who came together to hear speeches from members of Standing Together and their partners, talking about peace, a shared future, and fighting against calls for incitement and violence. They have also been coordinating the delivery of essential goods to Bedouin villages whose residents were forced to flee due to the war.
🟠 The Parents Circle – Families Forum are themselves the bereaved families of fallen Israelis and Palestinians. Over the weekend they held a vigil on zoom with bereaved Israelis and Palestinians to hold space and solidarity for all those lives that have been lost, for the newly bereaved and to demand an end to the violence.
🟠 The Road to Recovery, an Israeli Association of volunteers who drive Palestinian patients – primarily children – from checkpoints in the West Bank and Gaza for life-saving treatments in Israeli hospitals, has been offering assistance to anyone in need from their large volunteer network.
🟠 Looking the Occupation in the Eye, an organization that raises awareness and exposes the public to human rights violations in the occupied territories, are guarding and staying with small Palestinian communities in the West Bank that are being attacked by settlers who are trying to push them to leave their houses and lands.
🟠 aChord is a socio-academic organization that develops and makes available innovative academic knowledge in social psychology in order to promote egalitarian, tolerant and respectful relations between the various social groups in Israel as well as between the society in Israel and the neighboring societies in the region. They have published multiple guides for mixed spaces, in the workplace and in academia, to assist those who work and study in shared spaces. See guide to the academy: Tools for dealing with challenges in stressful times and guide for shared workspaces. Their Psychosocial consulting team also created a Guide to managing intergroup relations in mixed cities when tensions escalate, and their Research department immediately launched a series of weekly public opinion surveys (see one of them here) when war broke out. aChord also has a new educational website (in Hebrew) that serves as a database of inspirational stories for educational use, promoting intergroup solidarity during the ongoing crisis. It offers inspiring case stories, including articles, social media posts, and videos, equipping educators with valuable resources, fostering understanding and hope among students amidst turbulent times. Staff at aChord are also providing consulting to several public campaigns being prepared by various organizations, aimed at preventing violence between Jews and Arabs in Israel (see here all the products aChord are making available to those working in the field during this time).
🟠 A coalition of many ALLMEP members and other organizations have written a letter to mayors in mixed cities and shared regions with 6 steps they can take in the context of Jewish-Arab relations right now. The members include AJEEC-NISPED, Abraham Initiatives, Itach Maaki, Mehazkim, Givat Haviva, Sadaka Reut, Rossing Center and Sikkuy-Aufoq.
🟠 Roots have started an emergency fund for Peace-makers at a Time of War that aims to support Palestinian peace-makers and their families whose sources of income have dried up as a result of the war and who have no social safety net. Roots is working to ensure that they have basic foodstuffs and essential medicines. It also aims to keep lines of communication open between Israeli and Palestinian peace-makers while tribal loyalties threaten to destroy partnerships built up over years of painstaking effort. The fund also supports Israelis uprooted from the Gaza border area, now temporarily living in the Gush Etzion area where Roots operates. Roots are also offering zoom sessions for communities to provide a space to discuss, listen and mourn with each other.
🟠 Givat Haviva opened up their campus to 400 residents of Ashkelon, Ofakim, Sderot, Nativot and the surrounding area whose homes were destroyed in Hamas’ attack, providing them with shelter and essential necessities.
🟠 Combatants for Peace organized an online event: “Staying Together, Holding on to Hope, A Conversation with Palestinian & Israeli CfP Activists”. The conversation was between two Palestinian activists, Mai Shahin and Jamil Qassas, and two Israeli activists, Ayala Shalev and Chen Alon, from CfP for a talk on Holding on to Humanity & Hope.
🟠 Tag Meir, an organization that works on connecting different groups in Israeli society to eradicate racism and violence in Israel, met with various community leaders in Kassem village to condemn the Hamas attack that killed Israeli Jews, Arabs, and foreign workers, and to express concern about the safety of Arabs in Israel right now. They emphasized Islam’s opposition to revenge and murder, agreeing that solidarity between Jews and Arabs is the response to such attacks.
🟠 Hechalutz organized volunteers to assist with the rehabilitation process for communities in Israel along the Gaza strip. They helped with food distribution, collecting donations, and educational services as well as coordinating the hosting of families and evacuees.
🟠 A New Dawn in the Negev is mobilizing to treat collective trauma – without differences of religion, race, gender and nationality. They are focusing especially on rehabilitation and treatment for Bedouin residents in the towns and villages that were severely damaged.
🟠 ALLMEP member, Rabbis for Human Rights is partnering with Culture of Solidarity to ensure aid reaches those falling through the cracks. Their aim is to deliver food boxes to evacuees from the attack on October 7th, to Bedouin communities in the Negev, to Palestinians displaced due to settler violence, to asylum seekers, and to migrant workers. “By extending essential assistance to those affected by this vicious cycle of war, we not only help meet their immediate necessities but also uphold the enduring essence of our shared humanity.”
🟠 The School for Peace (SfP) at Wahat al-Salam-Neve Shalom has re-stated their commitment to peacebuilding in the region through educational activities, even in the darkest of times. Since the start of the war, they have taken several actions in this direction: They have held multiple online dialogue sessions for their active bi-national groups; they have responded to a request by both the residents of their home village of Wahat al-Salam-Neve Shalom (‘Oasis of Peace’) and the staff of the local bi-lingual elementary school to conduct dialogue sessions due to the war and the complexities it brings to the daily life in a nationally-mixed spaces; and they started their new dialogue program between Palestinian and Israeli-Jews who live in Europe. They have been speaking with the international media to raise awareness of their peaceful agenda: Watch Nava, the former director of SfP in an interview on CBC News, and Dr. Slieman Halabi, a Palestinian facilitator from SfP who was interviewed on German television. Along with other ALLMEP members, SfP has also called against harming civilians on both sides.
🟠 Hand in Hand, an educational institution dedicated to building shared society in Israel via Jewish-Arab bilingual schools and communities, quickly reopened their schools – as soon as was safely possible after October 7th – to provide their students with community and help them through this life-altering moment. By doing this, Hand in Hand are helping students to hold one another’s pain, reject violence without rejecting a whole people, and find a way to get through this together. Read about their schools and current activities here.
🟠 The Arava Institute campus in Kibbutz Ketura is home to students and interns from Israel, Palestine, and around the world, even during these difficult times. The participants study and live together and learn tools to interact with one another even during times of extreme conflict. The Arava Institute has been facilitating Nonviolent Communication (NVC) workshops, an approach to communication developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, aiming at increasing empathy as a tool to coordinate meaningful relationships with others.
🟠 The Abraham Initiatives in cooperation with other shared society organizations in Israel who work for peace and equality, including many ALLMEP members, published a call this week, addressing the Jewish society in Israel. They have also been holding meetings to discuss the urgent need for education in a shared society, hosting shared learning webinars for teachers, and urging the Minister of Defense to provide protection measures to unrecognized villages in the Negev.
🟠 In response to the dire and devastating emergency unfolding in Gaza, Holy Land Trust – in collaboration with their partners at Rebuilding Alliance and four Palestinian Non-Governmental Community Based Organizations in Gaza – is actively working to provide kits containing food, water, and hygiene supplies to families in Gaza who are in desperate need.
🟠 TalkMatters is continuing to show support for the grass-roots work in Israel and Palestine and to introduce the UK public to the people who refuse to see one another as enemies, and who, against all the odds, are working to build a future of peace, justice and equality. They are encouraging those in the UK to pass on the human stories they are sharing to friends and colleagues.
🟠 Peace Drums Project is at or near capacity for their musical groups of students, both in Israel and the West Bank. After shutting down for about a week, their teachers went back to teaching steel drum bands when the schools opened back up. “This is the generation that we must focus on: young kids, ages 10-17, playing music together and experiencing that humanazing aspect . We are close to impacting 200 kids each week”.
🟠 The Jerusalem-based The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (ICSD) is bringing together Muslim, Jewish, Christian and other religious leaders and clergy for the first-ever Faith Pavilion at a UN climate conference, which will take place in the United Arab Emirates starting November 30, 2023. Following this, ICSD intends to bring together Muslim, Jewish, Christian seminary students and clergy in Jerusalem for a conference on religion, climate, and coexistence.
🟠 The Leo Baeck Education Center in Haifa has been operating on multiple levels, including emotional support to students, staff, and their families; special programs for evacuated families; collecting, sorting, packing and delivering over 2,000 packages to soldiers and to evacuated families; and participating in Shared Society activities. For example, they participated in a special conference that included over 50 religious leaders of all religions (Jewish, Muslims, Christians, Ba’hai, Druze, and more), to condemn the October 7th massacre and to find cultural and religious ways to sit together and light the torch of hope. They most recently convened for an evening of meeting, discussion, singing and prayer with Leo Baeck Shared Society activists for the “return of the captives to their homes and for the peace that hopefully will come after the war”.
🟠 ALLMEP partner Yanabia, an organization that supports and assists the rights of Negev Bedouins, has organized emergency activities along two routes: First, protection of the Bedouin population, providing 1,000 households in need with mobile shelters. Second, preparing for the day after by improving the emergency operations of Bedouin local authorities through their “Municipal Accelerator” model. They are also preparing for a surge in demand for Bedouin agricultural workers following the departure of foreign workers, securing future employment opportunities on farms.
🟠 The Abraham Initiatives are concentrating on strengthening relations between Jews and Arabs, creating partnerships to prevent violence, training local leaders, and monitoring and discouraging racist incitement on social media. Additionally, they are providing assistance to the Bedouin community in the Negev, offering training in trauma response, emergency procedures, and first aid.
🟠 A New Way recently conducted a pivotal meeting, bringing together directors, coordinators, and teaching staff from diverse schools, including both Jews and Arabs from across Israel. During the meeting, participants shared their experiences and challenges, leading to the unveiling of an updated educational plan tailored to the current situation. Emphasizing flexibility and sensitivity, the discussion highlighted the importance of preparing for multicultural interactions at a suitable pace. Despite complexities, the participants left the meeting with renewed strength, hope, and a shared commitment to working and living together.
🟠 Shatil swiftly responded to the crisis focusing on three key areas: meeting basic needs of Negev residents, preventing escalation between Jews and Arabs through their Shared Society Forum (which also includes ALLMEP members the Abraham Initiatives, aChord, Givat Haviva, Itach Maaki, Sikkuy-Aufoq, Standing Together, and Tzedek Centers) and enhancing the resilience of NGOs, professionals, and activists. Their efforts include providing immediate assistance to vulnerable populations, coordinating activities with local leaders, promoting equality through grassroots initiatives, and offering training sessions to manage crisis situations and combat incitement and racism in the media. Shatil continues to address urgent challenges, aiming to foster solidarity and cooperation during this period of heightened tension.
🟠 Rossing Center for Education and Dialogue are focusing on alumni of our dialogue programs and teachers from our wide network of schools – helping them find ways to support their students during this close-to-impossible time. We are also offering to support schools which serve a mixed population, or with both Jewish and Arab teaching staff, since these schools are finding it particularly difficult to cope with the current polarized climate. They are also are members of several coalitions of organizations, working together to do our utmost to maintain calm, working with municipal leadership as well as grassroots efforts, and in parallel working to support freedom of speech of both Palestinians and Israelis to express empathy for the other and opposition to the war. As part of this effort, and in order to reduce tensions in Jerusalem, we are leading a humanitarian and advocacy effort for Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem.
🟠 The Interfaith Encounter Association (IEA) is hosting a new series entitled Interfaith Talks, which gathers religious and community leaders and members from across Israel and Palestine to meet and discuss how current events are affecting their communities, and what they are doing to develop interfaith cooperation during these times. Each episode will bring new participants from different communities. The first episode, “Mutual Crisis Support,” airs on November 20th at 7:30 Jerusalem time (12:30 EST). Episodes can be watched live on Zoom, Facebook Live and YouTube. You can register here: https://bit.ly/InterfaithTalks
🟠 The Geneva Initiative has been organizing working groups to highlight policy opportunities, briefing senior members of the international community on how they can contribute to potential breakthroughs and setting up calls and meetings about how to achieve a better policy horizon, led by their Israeli and Palestinian experts for influential stakeholders including politicians, civil society leaders and journalists. They maintain Israeli–Palestinian cross-border relationships and strengthen the voices looking past the bloody present, to a secure future. And they continue to provide support for their participants and alumni across a wide range of projects who have turned to them for guidance and resources over the last few weeks.
🟠 The Freddie Krivine Tennis Initiative has helped, for over 20 years, to break down stereotypes by bringing Jewish and Arab children together through their interest in tennis. They are continuing their activities, with their Arab coaches running tennis programmes with children in their villages, and are very close to completing their refurbished courts at Beit Hananya.
🟠 The Rossing Center for Education and Dialogue has re-adapted its focus to address emerging needs after the Oct 7th attacks. The primary efforts include supporting and strengthening Christian communities, providing tools for teachers in Christian schools to address the war in the classroom, helping individuals cope with loss and fear, and preventing the escalation of violence in Jerusalem and Israel. The organization is also leading humanitarian and advocacy efforts for Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, addressing issues such as roadblocks, reduced food supplies, and rising prices. Additionally, the Center is working in Ramle and Lod to meet urgent community needs, maintain calm, and foster good relations between diverse communities, particularly focusing on marginalized populations. Volunteers, including program graduates, are playing a crucial role in these initiatives. The Center continues to emphasize the importance of adapting educational programs to the current reality, focusing on emotional processing, healing, and engaging with foundational topics such as democracy and human dignity.
If any of the work of these ALLMEP members has inspired or moved you, please consider donating to them in this hour of need, and please reach out to ALLMEP if you need any help to do so.