. Summary of the 2007/8 Activity Year
As our year of activity is on large scale identical to the school – year in Israel, it includes all projects accomplished between beginning of September 2007 and August 2008.
The last year of activity was rather different comparing with the former one. The second half of 2007 was characterized by unusual financial stress that even forced us to postpone for some while salaries of our devoted staff – of course this was done only with their full agreement. This situation was an outcome of several factors:
1 - Failure to raise in time necessary funds for our "Talk Peace – Make Peace" (Young Politicians Peace Dialogue) project. This factor put a real stress on our cash flow – and forced us to postpone the beginning of this project from January – as it was originally planned, to April 2008.
2 – The general attitude among donors in Europe became unfavorable for what they call "Dialogue Projects" – that means, joint Israeli – Palestinian projects. Attention of many funding agencies was shifted toward supporting Palestinian development projects as well as Israeli Arab-Palestinian NGOs under the title of "minorities empowerment".
3 – Our great success in the 2006/7 activity year along which our projects expanded very fast, made us to ignore reduction of income along the first half of 2007, a fact that shook the financial balance between our income and expenses.
In spite of this hard situation, we succeeded to manage successfully two of our main projects: Woman Educators for Peace & Human Rights, and Nemashim (One Year of Life for the Society).
1 - Along the first half of 2008 the financial situation has been improved and we started to renew our third main Project: "Talk Peace – Make Peace" (Young Politicians Peace Dialogue).
2 - Additional projects that we hoped to realize, unfortunately couldn't execute – mostly out of financial reasons: our application for the "Beyond the Barriers" – a European – Mediterranean Summer Training Program that we run in 2004 – 2005 was refused by the European Commission (Euro-Med Youth), its main donor in the past.
Another project initiated by the Municipality of Haifa: "Students' Village" in which university students live in apartments supplied by the township and in exchange they do a certain weekly amount of social work among underprivileged population turned to us to involve the Project. After negotiations of a couple of month the plan fell down for lack of funding.
3 – Following a crisis among the staff of the "Nemashim" project, we had to separate with great sorrow, from Mr. Uri Shani, the founder and Director of this Project. I hope with all my heart that in the future we shall be able to renew our cooperation with him. Uri was replaced by Mr. Gil Cohen. His experience and personality seemed most suitable to fulfill successfully the hard role that he took on him.
On this occasion I would like to greet Mrs. Danielle Mitterrand with her agreement to join our International Public Board. Her presence on our Board is an exceptional addition to our reputation.
1 - Academic Projects
Excellent cooperation with three Academic institutes (The Emeq Yizre'el Academic College, the Oranim Academic College for Education and the Faculty for Sociology of the University of Haifa) all along the last year promoted to great success of this Project.
The project was realized on similar way in each institute: within the framework of semesterial academic course professional academic elements were integrated with dynamic workshops. It included four weekly successive academic units all along one semester. First two units were devoted to lectures given by academic lecturer, while in the second two units Dynamic Workshops were hold by facilitators of "Friendship Village". In these workshops the issues learned in previous lectures were elaborated on personal, emotional level. As the Courses were devoted to social and psychological issues of subjects like gender relationships, inter-ethnic conflict, sociology of occupation etc., personal implication on all participating students was self evident. Especially, as integral part of all the courses was equal participation of Jewish and Arab students (we decided to abolish our course in an additional Academic Institute when they failed to recruit Arab students).
Along the five years of this Project we realized, that this way has great advantage for each involved partner: the students get a very unique course that is regarded as academic, therefore they get benefits accordingly – beside the added value of rethinking all their deeply trenched norms and values that brings many of them to personal involvement in social – political issues. The Academic Institutes receive financial participation from "Friendship Village" and a positive experience in obtaining novel means to transfer their messages to students – Friendship Village gets access to Jewish and Arab students, most of them future teachers, to whom we can transfer our messages.
In these courses we succeeded to close the gap between academic world and the real world outside. Along the 2007/8 academic year we held 5 academic courses in three institutes, in participation of about 100 students, about 50% Jews, 50% Arabs.
As mentioned before, we suspended partnership with one of our partners in the past: the Levinsky Academic College for Education, as they failed to recruit Arab participants this year. The next year we mean to renew our effort for cooperation with this important institute.
With another partner – the Gordon Academic Institute for Education – we had a different sort of problem: in the Summer of 2007 a Summer Training Program for woman teachers was hold in cooperation with them and in partnership of the "Women Coalition" NGO.
This year out of technical reasons, there were almost no interested teachers in Summer Training Courses, therefore we had to cancel our Course, planned for July 2008. On the other hand we are in negotiations to hold a regular Academic Course – similar to those of the Emeq Yizre'el and Oranim colleges.
In the Department of Sociology of the University of Haifa, we held one Course.
Summary and continuity of partnership
Following negotiations in all Academic Institutes we are cooperating with, it seems that the next Activity year we shall have the following courses:
Emeq Yizre'el – 3 – 4 courses spread over two semesters
Oranim – 2 courses: one in first semester and a second one in the second semester.
Univ. of Haifa – One course in the first semester.
2 – Young Politicians Peace Dialogue (Talk Peace – Make Peace) – 2008
This project presented to some donors under the title of "Talk Peace – Make Peace, to others as "Young Politicians Peace Dialogue" started this year very late. After 3 previous cycles we had to hold an interval of one year, however this year we meant to renew it. Unfortunately only toward the end of March 2008 sufficient funding was assured, therefore it was started in April – instead of January as planned originally.
Recruiting Israeli participants was rather easy: following warm recommendations of former cycles' graduates, about 30 nominees competed for 12 places. Following personal interviews the final The Palestinian partners selected their group too, however in end of the two separated selections the Palestinian group turned out to be younger, less experienced – and from lower status in their Organizations than the Israelis were. Along the 3 1/2 month of this very intense course, all participants met in bi-national encounters twice for long weekends in Turkey, twice for short weekends in Beit Jallah and three times for uni-national sessions.
Toward the end of October we plan to hold a one day long encounter in Beit Jallah, to which all participants of the project along the last four years will be invited. Purpose of this encounter will be – renewal of connections with old participants, to test ways of cooperation between the partners on different levels and to check the possibility of holding an Advanced Course for all former participants of the Project, as a continuity of the annual Course that we hold every time for new activists.
3 – Nemashim (One Year of Life for the Society)
This year we have accomplished the third year of this one year long volunteering program.
The young (18-19) volunteer group worked with youth and children among Arab and Jewish under privileged neighborhoods of Haifa, through theater and other art circles. They started the Project in August 2007 with 6 participants: 3 Jewish girls, 2 Arab boys and one Jewish boy. A couple of month later one of the Arab boys came to conclusion that the project didn't suit to him and left.
The group shared a rented apartment of 4 rooms. They are called "Kommuna" – the full title : "NEMASHIM Kommuna". In addition to working as volunteers of education for art, all members of the group worked also a weekly 15 – 20 hours in every available job, in purpose to share the Project's expenses.
The group functioned well all over the year. They run about 15 different art and theater circles in participation of children and youth of the Newe Yosef, populated by Jewish inhabitants and the Arab populated Halisa neighborhoods. Some circles were nationally monolithic, others were bi-national. The ultimate goal was – to create as many as possible connections between young generation of the two neighborhoods.
It has to be mentioned, that both neighborhoods are among the most difficult ones in Haifa: Newe Yosef is populated by new immigrants from Russia, Ethiopia and veterans from North Africa, while population of Halisa is regarded as the poorest in all Haifa.
Some of the activity was spread beyond the borders of these neighborhoods and included work with youth in other regions of the town as well.
All activity was executed through daily cooperation with Social Centers and Youth Clubs, run by the Township and by other welfare institutions.
In addition to regular work on the field of art education, the Group performed three theater plays along the year: a play for children in December, a play written by themselves – in April and a professional theater play in August, just before finishing the year of volunteering.
We have to mention a serious crisis that broke out in March, when Mr. Uri Shani, the Director of this beautiful project, a talented Theater Director – and its "father" - quit, following a long period of doubts about its way. He was replaced by Mr. Gil Cohen – an expert in work with youth and video art.
We have to mention the strong and hearty connections and cooperation of the volunteers with graduates of the same project, who stayed in Haifa one or two more years, in order to continue their work with people of these neighborhoods. From the first cycle of the "Nemashim" project 3 youngsters were left, from the second cycle – 2 youngsters.
Connections were kept also with some others, who were learning in the Haifa University, since finished their own year of volunteering.
Before the end of 2007 we started to work in recruiting a fresh group of volunteers among theater oriented high schools. They were carried through a preparation course of 6 weekend theater workshops. In the end a new group of 5 Jewish and Arab volunteers were selected to participate the 2008/9 Nemashim Kommuna: 4 girls and one boy. One of the girls is an Arab one.
They will start their "Year of Volunteering" in mid-August by a 4 days long preparation seminar. The present group will be replaced by them in the first week of September.
In spite of our considerable success with all our Projects, our ability to keep on was put in a real question in the second half of 2007, as a result of our financial crisis. The financial stress we were put under, had two main sources:
1 – The "Nemashim" Project was started actually five years ago, without proper funding.
We started it in spite of lack of funding, as believed that such a project – a mixture of volunteering – art – work with underprivileged children and youth – Jewish-Arab cooperation, will make fund raising easy. Well, we were wrong and the project actually drained all our budget reserves. Only the last year donations covered full cost of the Project. About 30% was given by the Township of Haifa. This was the first meaningful donation we succeeded to get from any Israeli establishment for any of our projects.
2 – The last couple of years the issue of Jewish-Arab dialogue is out of the fashion and many funding agencies who supported such projects in past years, shifted their attention to Palestinian NGOs, Israeli Arab NGOs or to other regions of the world.
Inside Israel the establishment totally ignores this issue. Private donations is hard to find as Jewish-Arab projects are regarded as "political" that almost nobody in Israel is ready to support, on the other hand among welfare projects the competition is great.
I would like to express my gratitude to all our donors. Only thanks to their goodwill we succeeded to promote Jewish-Arab and Israeli – Palestinian rapprochement and cooperation.
Caritas Italiana Haifa Township Mr. Giorgio Gomel Caritas Switzerland Kibbutz Maabarot Mrs. Adachiara Zevi Secours Catholique Kibbutz Ma'agan Michael Mr. Daniel Gutenberg CCFD Barmad Ltd. Ms. Shira Ettinger Finnish Embassy in Israel Sabo Fdn. Mr. Elhanan Streit Kadoorie Foundation Ramsay Foundation Rabbi David Adelson Umverteilen ! Bay Foundation Bancroft Clark Charitable BSST Humanitarian Trust Inheritance Fund Rich Foundation DIPG
Jonatan Peled August 10, 2008