The desire to abolish the polarization and social rift prevalent in Israel is important to many people, but taking action on the subject is not always a priority. Many organizations for advancing equality in Israel work for precisely these goals and invest all their resources to encourage discourse in a slightly different way and to lead long-term change. But in order to continue this important activity, particularly during this challenging period that necessitates adapting to a new situation, these organizations, including "A New Way", need your help.
"A New Way": Creating a shared existence together
Changing the Jewish-Arab discourse in Israel. "A New Way" works for this purpose by means of a series of educational programs, encounters and joint projects. Now it is asking for help that will enable it to continue its important mission.
"A New Way" facilitates something that seems to have been lost: the ability to conduct open multicultural dialogue between Jews and Arabs in Israeli society. What President Rivlin expressed in his speech on the “Four Tribes” in 2015, the organization’s founder Dr. Tikva Bracha and her team already realized in 1998, when they decided to take action and try to abolish social polarization by creating direct contact and multicultural collaboration that would help to change the problematic status-quo in Jewish-Arab relations.
“Distancing, fear, prejudices and lack of an opportunity to meet for the purpose of shared work are the main problems,” says Erez Bar, CEO of "A New Way". “There is no ability to collaborate. We try to solve this by creating an educational multi-community process that includes the entire community: children, teaching staff, parents, volunteers and mayors. Mixed communities and adjacent communities enter a holistic multiyear process that creates partnership and enables them to get to know one another directly.
"When you see a person without mediation and without external factors – it has an impact on the situation. Suddenly they are not a ‘Jew’ or an ‘Arab’ but a human being, a citizen, a neighbor. Later on, also a friend. In this way you can neutralize the influence of the politicians, the media and other entities that present the other side to us in a mediated way, and create a direct encounter between people, in which you learn about the other through their culture and through their world view. This kind of encounter enables discourse that is different from what exists today in Israeli society. Not another debate, another argument and an attempt to rebuke the other side. The aim of the discourse is to talk about our difficulties and to become aware of what we have in common. When you manage to reach a place where one person looks at the other as a human being, then you see what you have in common.”
A multi-community model of action
The workshops carried out by "A New Way" are varied and are based on methods developed by the organization. For example: a workshop for parents and students based on methods from the field of drama which is an excellent way to create discourse that brings the communities closer.
Additional encounters take place as part of a long series of social development programs. A program for partnership between schools brings two school communities, Jewish and Arab, together and creates collaboration between them. The students get to know each other, learn about one another and the other culture, conduct open discourse and take an active part in multicultural collaboration. A unique program for shared study for matriculation exams in civics has been developed in recent years in collaboration with the Amal school network. "A New Way" also does not forget the teaching staff: apart from the multicultural workshops for the entire staff, during the multi-community activity, the organization enables each school to choose a number of key figures from its staff. They meet for a process workshop that provides tools from the field of leadership and social-community activity and trains the teachers to establish multicultural projects together. Multicultural women’s groups are also offered with the aim of creating social change in the community. These programs empower the participants and teach them practical tools for leading and creating processes of change, to abolish prejudice, advance open dialogue and create partnership and joint work.
This is only a partial list. "A New Way" has many other programs, in which some 5,000 participants take part each year. “The organization places great emphasis in multicultural collaboration through volunteering, social involvement and developing local initiatives. The emphasis on activity for a shared goal is fundamental in creating an understanding that Arabs and Jews can live together,” says Erez Bar.
“The model of activity is a multi-community one and is reminiscent of grassroots movements: you begin from below and work upwards in circles. Today we work throughout the country in productive collaboration with municipalities, schools, community centers and more. Our senior facilitators come mainly from the creative fields: artists, actors, musicians. We have learned that such people have an exceptional ability to break the ice and create initial familiarity in a safe environment. Together with them are senior facilitators in the field of dialogue, mediation, leadership and social involvement.
"A New Way" has a combined economic model: the communities that book the activity finance 50% and the organization finances the rest from donations. Bar says that in the constantly charged Israeli atmosphere on the subject of Jews and Arabs it is never easy to raise funds, but now, during the coronavirus crisis, the task is particularly difficult.
“All of the donations we receive in this period go to activity only. We are adapting our content to distant use, and we need greater resources than usual. We ask the public who identify with our aims to help. Together we have the power to show that it is possible to do things differently. If each of our supporters gives even a small amount – our shared strength will create a substantial sum that will enable us to pursue education for shared society and multicultural partnership for Israeli society during these challenging times.”