Support Palestinian& Jewish Youth Leaders in Jaffa

by Sadaka-Reut Arab Jewish Youth Partnership
Support Palestinian& Jewish Youth Leaders in Jaffa
Support Palestinian& Jewish Youth Leaders in Jaffa
Support Palestinian& Jewish Youth Leaders in Jaffa
Support Palestinian& Jewish Youth Leaders in Jaffa
Support Palestinian& Jewish Youth Leaders in Jaffa
Support Palestinian& Jewish Youth Leaders in Jaffa
Support Palestinian& Jewish Youth Leaders in Jaffa
Support Palestinian& Jewish Youth Leaders in Jaffa
Looking at a map of Palestinian towns before 1948
Looking at a map of Palestinian towns before 1948

As the year progresses, Community in Action participants began to delve more deeply into issues relating to the conflict.

In early April, the two groups went on the tour "From Jaffa to Beirut", guided by Zochrot. The tour started in Jaffa, in what used to be the Manshiyeh neighborhood that was destroyed in 1948, continued in Nesher, which was built on the ruins of the village of Balad al-Sheikh, and ended in Iqrit, formerly a Christian Palestinian village that was destroyed and occupied by the Israeli military and where Palestinian activists are now working towards return. In Nesher, participants were asked by locals what they were doing there, and when they responded that they came to learn about what happened in 1948, locals seemed confused and said that "there was nothing here". At the end of the tour, the guide asked the group us to imagine a different, less segregated future, in which the kind of life that existed and was ruined could be re-established on this land.

And the active learning continued. In their second and last seminar, the Community in Action group made its way to Jerusalem. Adam, a group participant, wrote the following reflection:

The journey in Jerusalem began with mixed feelings. Every step you take has some meaning; every place you see and pass through has its own quiet struggle.

We spent the first day, which was a Friday, in the Muslim Quarter. As we passed through the crowded area near Al-Aqsa Mosque, and saw policemen standing there in every corner, the same question kept creeping into my mind: Why? Maybe I'm naive, or maybe there really is no good reason. From there we moved on to observe the settlements and synagogues in the neighborhood. We realized the extent to which the Muslim Quarter is under the constant threat of the occupation. We saw a march of Orthodox Christians in celebration of Easter. Maybe not everything that happens in the Muslim Quarter has a political significance.

We continued on to the Western Wall, but not before we went through a security check.Six minutes later we saw the entrance. It was the first time I stepped a foot there. There was no special revelation there, except maybe I expected it to be bigger. From there we went to the City of David. Before you enter the pretty area, you are greeted with dilapidated building, and the whole compound is run by a settlers' organization. Some people find it beautiful. This is where we concluded the tour.

From there we went to Sheikh Jarrah, where residents are under threat of deportation. We talked to one of the people whose house was in the midst of legal proceedings towards evacuation, and then accompanied him to a demonstration against the evacuation. We marched and shouted in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

On the second day, we started in the center of Jerusalem. We went to Independence Park and spoke with two activists: a Palestinian and a Jew. They both talked about the role of the activist with all its complexities. After a fascinating conversation we continued on our way into the Armenian Quarter. The Armenian people are very interesting and have a unique history. We learned about a part of Jerusalem that we knew nothing about, and it was "refreshing" to listen to other problems in this city than the occupation.

This long journey undoubtedly inspired us with ideas and questions. In the end, we did return to Tel Aviv, but make no mistake – our struggle has just begun, and our journey still continues.

We hope that you, too, like the Community in Action participants, feel inspired to keep taking steps in new directions, and learning about the struggles held in different places!

Exploring the Armenian Quarter in Jerusalem
Exploring the Armenian Quarter in Jerusalem
The group protesting in Sheikh Jarrah
The group protesting in Sheikh Jarrah
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Participants during their seminar in Haifa
Participants during their seminar in Haifa

The last few months at Sadaka-Reut have been full of activities, with the Community in Action group participating in a tour in Lod, an overnight seminar in Haifa, and joining other SR participants, alumni, and staff at our annual conference in Jaffa.

After learning more about Jaffa as a mixed city and beginning to explore questions of shared spaces and the political implications of the coexistence narrative, participants made their way to the city of Lod – another city that is home to both Arab-Palestinian and Jewish populations. There, they met with a local activist, visited a local community center and continued to grapple with questions connected to the idea of living together in a divided reality and deep-rooted inequalities.

This process was continued during an overnight seminar in Acre and Haifa, where participants met with local educators and activists to get a better idea of the city's politics in the past and present. For a Palestinian participant, this experience was eye-opening: "I was not aware of the severe oppression of Palestinians in Acre, and that there is a strategy of trying to increase Jewish presence there at the expense of Palestinians". One of the Jewish participants wrote: "When I meet individuals working towards such important causes it brings me hope and a belief in social-political struggle that I'm not sure I would have without the opportunity to meet such inspiring activists"

In December, Sadaka-Reut staff, alumni, and friends gathered for a community conference at al-Saraya theatre in Jaffa. The conference agenda included a panel with speakers representing diverse professions and groups in society who spoke based on their personal and professional experience about bridging the gap between the polarizing reality that surrounds us and the individuals within our community trying to advocate for change as well as implement it in their own lives. We concluded with two inspiring performances that left attendees thankful for the sense of community this gathering was intending to and able to provide.

We would like to thank everyone who was there with us, both in person and in spirit!

Conference attendees watching the panel
Conference attendees watching the panel
Sadaka-Reut staff at the conference in Jaffa
Sadaka-Reut staff at the conference in Jaffa
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Coordinators and facilitators during a workshop
Coordinators and facilitators during a workshop

It is the beginning of another year of bi-national education and activism at Sadaka-Reut. Like every year, new members joined our team of coordinators and facilitators and began to work together in order to empower new groups of youth and young adults to pursue the change they wish to see in their communities and societies.


According to Sadaka-Reut's Theory of Change, the transformation of the individual begins when she or he becomes more aware of their own identity and surroundings. This theory applies not only to our participants, but also to our staff. We know that successful facilitators' training greatly contributes to the success of our different programs.

Therefore, in October, old and new members of our team met together for the first time for two busy days of staff development, where they got to know each other personally and politically while engaging in workshops surrounding the current political climate, media biases, gender, and groups in society. Other workshops were more practical, requiring the team to deal with challenging case studies that they might need to deal with throughout the year, based on the organisation's past experience.

In our Community in Action program, the new Jewish and Palestinian participants started meeting for their weekly learning days in September. The first few meetings focused on introductions: participants were introduced to their coordinators and to each other, but also to Sadaka-Reut, its staff, and the Jaffa surroundings. They received training in preparation for a year of volunteering at schools in Jaffa, including on interactions with young students and specific measures of child protection.

In November, participants embarked on their first self-led tour of Jaffa, with each pair conducting research on one geographical point, its history, and what can be learned from it, and then sharing the lessons they learned with the rest of the group as they passed through each stop. The tour was informative and enriching for everyone involved, and will be followed by a few more. As they began their volunteering at four different schools in Jaffa – and, for the first time, also at the South Tel Aviv Levinsky Garden library, volunteering with migrant youth – participants are already well on their way to becoming involved and active members of their communities.

Thank you all for making it happen!

CiA participants touring Jaffa
CiA participants touring Jaffa
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Participants hold Spoken Word event in Jaffa
Participants hold Spoken Word event in Jaffa

Along with Sadaka-Reut's other programs, Community in Action participants concluded their activity year in June. They chose to celebrate the end of their journey together with a binational, bilingual public Spoken Word event that was held under the theme of social and political struggles. In the event, local artists were invited to present written pieces related to personal or collective experiences of oppression and protest. Topics ranged from different forms of systemic discrimination to civil non-violent protest.

This initiative grew out of the experience of one of the Palestinian group participants, who is also a member of a spoken word poetry group outside the program. Following the recent Gaza protests, she wrote and planned to perform a piece that included a line dealing directly with this subject, but the spoken word group's coordinator refused to allow it and demanded that she remove that line from the piece. When she refused, she was prevented from getting on stage and performing at their event. Once this participant told some of the others in the Sadaka-Reut group about what happened, they came up with the idea of holding this event in solidarity, to highlight this form of art as space to create social and political change.

Throughout the year, our participants volunteered with students at schools in Jaffa. During the last period of the activity year, they also summarized their experiences. The following are some feedbacks we received from the participants:

"We worked a lot this year on History and I think they began to see the material more critically and to understand that it is sometimes presented in a tendentious way"

"I witnessed my students gain self-confidence. Every meeting I would ask them to tell me about their week. They would tell me and I would show an interest and ask questions and it made them feel that someone cared about what they were going through"

"Everything is connected. The critical perspective I have developed throughout the year passed on to my students without me even intending to. My understanding of power dynamics and my place as a Jewish volunteer in an Arab school comes from our learning days and influences the way I tutor and treat the students"

We wish our recent program graduates the best for the future, and thank you all again for supporting this program and our the Sadaka-Reut vision! 

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As they began the final half of the program year, participants saw growing tensions both inside and around Israel. Both participants and facilitators have had to confront their own fears and biases and challenge their perspectives in order to have productive programming and conversation and be able to relate to one other.

In Gaza, the weekly Return Marches were faced with violent reactions from the Israeli army, resulting in high casualties. They were scheduled to take place from Land Day to Nakba Day, overlapping with Passover and the Jewish national holidays (Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut). The Palestinian participants were greatly affected by the violence and deaths in Gaza, while some Jewish participants found it challenging to have conversations on this issue during holiday celebrations. These external pressures, felt in some capacity by all participants and facilitators, made productive dialogue amongst the groups harder to achieve. Thus, facilitators and participants had to be more mindful of creating an open space for everyone to voice fears and observations of the events.

In March, Jewish and Palestinian participants of the Community in Action project took part in a seminar that explored the complexities of Palestinians' lives in Jerusalem/Al-Quds. Participants learned about the unjust division of resources between the Western and Eastern parts of the city, as well as the human rights violations caused by the separation wall and occupation. Jewish participants met with Joint Arab List Congressman Dov Khenin and local peace activist Hamutal Blanc, while the Palestinian participants went on a tour in the ancient city to learn about the history of Palestinian culture and current local initiatives. This was the first time this cohort of participants had gained deep, close-up knowledge of Jerusalem, and both groups felt inspired to take action on the issues addressed.

Earlier this month, Participants of the bi-national group took a historical tour called “From Jaffa to Beirut” with Zochrot, an NGO that focuses on commemoration of the 1948 displacement of Palestinians from their homes. Participants began the tour in Jaffa and learned about the erasure of Palestinian identity from spaces where oppression has taken place. Participants went onward to the village of Iqrit in the Northern Galilee. Once a Christian village, after 1948, the village became occupied by the Israeli military. Now, Iqrit is dealing with constant demolitions and rebuilding. Participants met local Iqrit activists who maintain a small, yet strong, Palestinian community there. The last stop on the tour was Rosh Hanikra, on the border of Lebanon, at which the conversation shifted to the potential return of Palestinian refugees. Despite the tense atmosphere in the air these days, the bi-national group handled this sensitive dialogue with maturity, openness and empathy, resulting in their ability to acknowledge some of difficult events of the past while still holding on to different visions for the future. We expect that the participants will continue to grapple with the new information and process how to incorporate it into their existing narratives, both individually and as a group.

We thank you, as always, for your continuous support in this process. Even as we go through difficult times in our region, it's good to know that we have partners like you walking with us!

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Organization Information

Sadaka-Reut Arab Jewish Youth Partnership

Location: Tel Aviv-Jaffa - Israel
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
DD Maoz
Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Tel Aviv-Jaffa Israel

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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