Shared Communities

A Local-to-National Program for Building A Shared Society

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, multi-level cooperation between pairs of communities alienated from each other by the most critical social divides that threaten the democratic fabric of Israel today: Jewish/Arab, secular/religious, affluent/poor and new immigrant/veteran citizen, among others.  Israeli citizens and local leadership are engaged across these divides through the creation of the inter-community alliances and frameworks that facilitate joint action around common values, projects and goals.  Activities are bolstered by the establishment of inter-municipal partnerships whereby local authorities activate their respective municipal infrastructures to support cross-sector civil society cooperation among diverse populations.

By actively demonstrating the mutual benefits of cooperation in the day-to-day experience of a wide cross-section of divided populations, the program builds the sustainable underpinnings for creating a shared future and shared society.  Local activity is linked to broader efforts that will facilitate replication across Israel -- advancing peaceful, economic and social development on a national scale.

Currently, the Shared Society initiative has been adopted by four pairs of towns, Jewish and Arab, targeting an area of over 350,000 people.

Constructing the Building Blocks of a Shared Society

Building and maintaining socially cohesive societies is one of the most complex challenges of our time. Evidence shows that countries are most likely to be peaceful, democratic and prosperous when leaders and citizens actively build a Shared Society that maximizes the contribution of all its members and embraces diversity as strength. Shared Societies are achieved when all parts of a community value and feel committed to their collective efforts.  Characterized by mutual trust, full participation and equal opportunity for all its citizens, Shared Societies promote respect for human dignity and maximize human potential. 

At Givat Haviva, we believe that change on a societal scale begins with the sociopolitical unit closest to the people: the community. Shared communities are thriving and prosperous places where people of all backgrounds feel that they are treated fairly, and that they have a responsibility to others that transcends the differences between them.  They are the building blocks of the national project of creating a Shared Society.  The well-being of individuals and communities leads to the well-being of the nation, and among nations. Furthermore, the risks of division, alienation and marginalization are high, and are often manifested in conflict, hostility and violence in and among communities -- with negative overall consequences for the society as a whole.

Israel provides a stark example of the risks inherent in an increasingly divided society and the benefits that social cohesion and integration can engender.  Ever-deepening social divides and increased alienation among sub-sections of Israeli society threaten to unravel the democratic fabric on which Israel's future stability and legitimacy depend.  Tensions between Arabs and Jews, religious and secular Jews, rich and poor, and immigrants and native citizens are increasing.  As in many divided societies, communities in Israel often lead "parallel lives" -- lives that do not cross or interact. The lack of meaningful contact leaves citizens vulnerable to stereotypes about "the other" and prevents the creation of a shared vision of society towards which all can join in achieving. 

The Shared Communities program is designed to galvanize diverse elements of divided communities towards long-term, mutually beneficial engagement -- translating the "Shared Society" concept into a meaningful experience for a diverse range of individuals.

The Paired Communities:

  1. Pardes Hanna-Karkur and Kfar Kara
  2. Menashe Regional Council and Baka el Garbiyya
  3. Megiddo and Ma'ale Iron
  4. Zemer and Emek Hefer

Holistic Approach: Engaging the Entire Community

The program adopts a holistic, inclusive approach to its activities, whereby all members of the community are engaged, including disadvantaged and vulnerable populations -- children and youth, the elderly, women and men, public officials and professionals.  By reaching out to all ages, the program is also uniquely positioned to generate meaningful change within family units, leading to a comprehensive process that can help to create a new social reality. 


The program aims to achieve the following objectives:
  • Generating Dialogue: Open new channels of communication and dialogue as a basis for fostering social cohesion among divided groups
  • Creating Sustainable Frameworks: Develop sustainable mechanisms for cooperation within and between divided communities
  • Building Capacity: Train participating communities to design and implement inter-community programs that address join needs and advance mutual interests
  • Activating Joint Projects: Mobilize people as catalysts for change, empowering them to work together across divides to implement community based projects
  • Facilitating Action Research: Conduct action research through a think tank dedicated to consolidating insights, best practices, and lessons learned from the program's activities -- forging a model of shared community-building that can inform future programs in Israel and other divided societies
  • Expanding Impact: Convene local, national and global actors to communicate outcomes and conclusions, in order to have an impact on a national and international scale

Multi-Level Framework

The program's objectives are achieved by creating joint intra- and inter- community partnerships, supported by local leadership.  These facilitate cross-sector cooperation among diverse and divided populations, as local authorities activate their respective infrastructures to jointly implement the program.  These frameworks catalyze grassroots community leaders and multipliers in working groups that mobilize the participation of the broader community. 

Activities are implemented through two shared community-building models:
  1. Inter-Community Model: Building partnerships between pairs of communities that are alienated from one another by an overriding social divide (for example: Arab and Jewish communities, secular and religious Jewish communities, affluent and disadvantaged communities, among others).
  2. Intra-Community Model: Building partnerships between socially divided groups within heterogeneous or mixed communities (for example: mixed Arab and Jewish towns, communities with both wealthy and poorer areas, etc.).

Read more about the Shared Communities Program here.