Arabs and Jews came together on Thursday across Israel to urge reconciliation and calm as violence rages on the streets of mixed Jewish-Arab cities, leaving dozens wounded, some in serious condition.
While some events and initiatives were fostered by institutions, others were spontaneous gathering between locals.
Mayors of Jewish and Arab municipalities in southern Israel gathered in the Negev on Thursday and issued a joint statement condemning violent incidents in the area. “After seeing the recent incidents and events, we see it as our duty, as Arab and Jewish mayors, to take responsibility condemn together the violent, racist and extremist events that are now ongoing in our society,” Naif Abu Arar, the mayor of the Arab town of Arara, which hosted the meeting said.
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Two NGOs, Arab-Jewish Center for Empowerment, Equality and Cooperation in the Negev Institute and Sikkuy – the Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality, are backing initiatives in an effort to promote equality and partnership between Jews and Arabs. Following their initiatives, nearly 60 municipalities have pledged to end the violence and protect the delicate social fabric in their communities.
The former Health Ministry Deputy Director-General, Prof. Itamar Grotto, assembled a group of Jews and Arabs healthcare workers which urges for calm. The initiative brings together healthcare worker in an effort to foster better relationships within medical staffs.
The Jewish-Arab medical staff in both Haifa and Afula hospitals has also campaigned for calm. They circulated photos depicting staff members holding signs reading “Peace” in both languages.
A forum for school principals rallied for cooperation and in condemnation of violence, its organizers said. Another rally of educators was held in Lod, where nighttime curfew was imposed amid the recent clashes between Jews and Arabs on Thursday. Many teachers also came up with individual initiatives. An Arab and a Jewish teachers from Be’er Sheva composed and shared a video of Jews and Arabs based on “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
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Activist Assaf Elroy wishes to amplify the moderate voices in society, which he believes compose the majority of society. "On social networks and the media you only hear the extremists," he said. But "90 percent of the people at home want calm." "We came to make the moderate voice heard,” said Elroy.
The Movement for Peace, Equality & Social Justice in Israel, Standing Together, has organized rallies throughout Israel "against the violence and its escalation." Moreover, the Tag Meir and Abraham Initiatives nonprofit organizations are also promoting reconciliation.
Haneen Shibli, Sheren Falah Saab, Tamer Masudin, Yanal Jabarin and Maria Rashad are participants in “Haaretz 21,” a new project aimed at amplifying underrepresented voices and stories of Arab communities in Israel.