Shared Communities

A Local-to-National Program for Building a Shared Society in Israel

A Givat Haviva Flagship Program, Shared Communities is a bold, concrete response to the urgent challenge of creating a socially cohesive society in Israel. The program builds structured, mutually beneficial cooperation between pairs of neighboring Jewish and Arab communities divided by increasing tensions and mutual alienation that threaten the democratic fabric of Israel today.

What differentiates Shared Communities from other Jewish-Arab P2P initiatives?
·  Long-term community engagement: A 4-year program going beyond limited encounters to establish sustainable frameworks for cooperation that advance long term goals.
·    Multi-generational: Targeting all ages in order to generate significant change within family units and across generations – creating a new social reality.
·     Holistic: Inter-community projects reflect community needs and interests in a wide range of sectors appealing to diverse audiences.
·        Bottom-up and top-down: Links political and grassroots levels in a unique framework rooted in the community and supported by municipal leadership.
·       Critical mass: Activities are implemented on a large scale in order to reach a critical mass that can bring about community-wide change.

How does the program work?
Municipal leadership and citizens are engaged across the Jewish-Arab divide through the creation of inter-community mechanisms and frameworks that facilitate joint action responding to common needs, goals and interests. Key program components include:
1.   Cross-CommunityProject Implementation: Community activists coordinate the implementation of cooperative projects reflecting the needs and interests of communities based on a comprehensive mapping process. Hundreds of residents engage in grassroots projects in fields such as education, economic empowerment, ecology, art and culture, capacity building, sports and more.
2.      Inter-MunicipalSteering Committees: Joint steering committees are established between each pair of communities, headed by mayors and including municipal staff and grassroots community leaders.
3.  Capacity Building& TrainingCommunity leaders are empowered through activities strengthening skills necessary for successful program implementation.
4.  Think Tank: Local and international experts, researchers and practitioners accompany the project, helping to build a model of inter-community cooperation for replication on national and international levels.
5.    Seminars &Conferences: The program brings together participants and the wider public at strategic intervals to share experiences and amplify impact.

What has been done so far?
Givat Haviva has established a partnership between the first pair of communities  - the Jewish town of Pardes Hanna-Karkur and neighboring Arab village of Kfar Kara. Ten projects are being implemented simultaneously between these communities engaging over 500 citizens. Based on the success of this pilot, 13 new pairs of communities have asked to join the program. Shared Communities has also been adopted by the Israeli Union of Local Authorities as a best practice for scaling up nationwide.

Why Givat Haviva?
This initiative builds on 60 years of experience gained by Givat Haviva, a non-profit organization founded in 1949 as the national education center of the Kibbutz Federation in Israel. A pioneer of Jewish-Arab joint programming, Givat Haviva has developed Shared Communities as a new model for building a shared society and helping to foster a sustainable, thriving Israeli democracy.

Prof. Rubén Campos, Programs Coordinator, Shared Society Project, Club de Madrid