August 12, 2021

Haifa and its local activists step into the spotlight on “Groundwork: The Mixed Cities Edition”

The third episode of “Groundwork: The Mixed Cities Edition” focuses on Haifa. It’s known as the poster child for “co-existence” in Israel, yet that is a term many of those engaged in this work in Haifa seem uneasy to embrace. In May, here too violence broke out.  Although the violence was less reported on than other mixed cities, where the fighting was more intense, it happened in a place where joint activism and cooperation is more present, and perhaps includes some lessons about what is working, and what is not. As well as how Arab/Jewish solidarity and activism can carve a path toward a better, peaceful and more equal shared future.
 

This port city is Israel’s third-largest city and likes to bill itself – though not without critique – as a place of more successful integration among its Jewish and Palestinian residents than in other parts of the country, which some trace to the days of British rule when strong ties were forged between Jewish and Palestinians across classes. The Palestinian population dwindled after a mass exodus from the city during the 1948 war and today makes up some 18 percent of the city, a growing number of which are University of Haifa students who decide to stay on in a city where Arabic and Hebrew can be heard in the same workplaces, cafés and streets. Politically outspoken, they’ve created a dynamic new cultural scene of their own in the city.

During the war in May there were clashes, mostly between the police and Arab-Palestinian protesters, alongside arson attacks and some attacks on stores, homes and drivers.  Among those at the protests against the inter-ethnic violence were longtime Haifa residents and activists, Jafar Farah and Merav Ben-Nun. Jafar is a civil rights campaigner who founded and directs Mossawa, a Haifa-based organization that promotes equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel. Merav is an expert in peace education and a founder of the bi-lingual Arabic and Hebrew Hand-in-Hand School in Haifa and a longtime civil rights activist in the city.

Check out the full episode here!