Looking Back at Givat Haviva's Fourth Annual Shared Society Conference

Executive Director, Yaniv Sagee's 
Welcoming Address  
at Givat Haviva's Shared Society Conference

"A week ago, for a moment, it seemed like a ray of light pierced the darkness. The Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition spoke together about a historic opportunity for peace that would justify a partnership between them. By the next day it was clear that the light was from the engine of the train of war and hate... and we got a right wing nationalist government. In the choice between peace and war, between democracy and ethnocracy, in the choice between a politics of fear and a politics of hope, again and again my beloved country chooses the slippery slope that inevitably leads to ruin.

But we have not gathered here today for the sake of anger and wailing. We have gathered here to strengthen the construction, the partnership, the hope, the true light and not the false. We have gathered together because we are connected partners in a society which is marching toward that slippery slope, but we are also working to prevent the crash by creating an alternative.

2,500 years ago, the great Chinese philosopher Confucius said, "When a group of people are marching downhill, the last one is the highest." And we truly are heading downhill, but we are the last, who are in the highest place, which demands responsibility, a clear strategy, precise implementation, belief in our way, and love. Yes, love.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend." While we in Israel speak with contempt of "lovers of Arabs", or of those who want to create partnership with "the Zoabis".

And I say -- they who speak of Arabs flocking to the polls, and they who are not ready to live in partnership with the Arab citizens of Israel , and they who see love of Arabs as mistaken or a shortcoming -- they are the ones who endanger our future, the future of our shared country, Israel.

And I have a small confession -- I am a lover of Arabs."

- Yaniv Sagee
Executive Director
The Center for Shared Society at Givat Haviva

Read the rest of Yaniv's speech here.

President of the United States, Barack Obama 

Sent His Greetings to our Conference

About this Year's Shared Society Conference

The theme of the Givat Haviva Shared Society Conference this year was " Implications of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict on Common Citizenship for Jews and Arabs in Israel ". The Conference included panel discussions on the implications of the conflict on common citizenship in the political, media and cultural arenas of common citizenship and shared society.

Among this year's Conference participants:

Gila Gamliel, Minister for Social Equality 
Mohammed Barake, Chairman of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel
Mark Gallagher, Head of Political Section, European Union Delegation to Israel 
MK Yitzhak Herzog, Head of the Labor Party 
MK Ayman Odeh, Head of the Joint List 
MK Ofer Shelach, Yesh Atid 

Official greetings were delivered from President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin and President of the United States, Barack Obama. Keynote speakers included Mark Gallagher, Head of the Political Section of the European Union Delegation to Israel; Mohammed Barake, Chairman of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel; and MK's Yitzhak Herzog, Ayman Odeh, Ayood Kara, and Ofer Shelach. Anwar Abu Aisha, Palestinian Minister of Culture delivered greetings from the Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

The Givat Haviva Annual Shared Society Conference is widely recognized as the primary convening event for all actors working to build a shared society in Israel. The first three conferences (2013 - 2015) brought together hundreds of citizens and leaders from diverse sectors of Jewish and Arab society, including civil society, government, private sector, academia and the donor community. These events provided a much-needed platform for discussions, experience sharing and collaborative strategy development towards building a shared society in Israel.

Check out the full Conference program here.

Stay tuned for more updates on summaries of the Conference.

Check out photos from the Conference here.