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Meeting to Talk – and nail and saw and paint

Two branches of HaNoarHaOved – the youth movement associated with Dror Israel - one Arab one Jewish- meet to build metaphorical bridges and literal benches

The month of May was not an easy month in Israel. The most recent round of violence left many disheartened about the state of coexistence between Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens, including those working hardest on building a shared society in our youth movement. As soon as things settled down and safe activities for youth became possible, the program coordinators and counselors got to work planning renewed meetings between Jewish and Arab youth.

One of the youth movement branches in Be’er Sheva met with an Arab branch of the movement from nearby Kseifah. The two branches had been engaged in the movement’s “Mifgashim Ledaber” (Meeting to Talk) program earlier this year, which had branches from all over the country meet over zoom once a week to learn Hebrew and Arabic together.

Gaia Amiran, the Jewish coordinator of the Beer Sheva branch said, “It was such important timing. Shortly after the escalation of violence in May, we felt it was critical that groups of Arab and Jewish youth be able to meet and do something nice together. Especially after the tension that was specific to communities in southern Israel.”

“The participants were very excited to get together. They wanted to finally meet in person their friends from Zoom and didn’t only think ‘they’re Arabs’ or ‘they’re Jews’. At the meeting itself we did carpentry work together. We received a small budget for this meeting from the Moving project sponsored by the Mizrahi Tefahot Bank. The participants arrived, we did a round of name games and then we gave out the wood and tools. We wanted to build two benches together - one for each branch to take back to their meeting spaces as a constant sign and reminder of partnership and friendship with the other branch.”

The meeting took place in the Negev Training Center in Be’er Sheva on the 19th of June. Around 20 11th and 12th grade teens participated.

“I would say the meeting was overall positive,” said Amiran. “I think there is nothing better to bring people together than a joint project, especially one where you have to use your hands. Without too much effort or complication, you just have to saw things, nail things, and work with your hands together as a group. It was very special.”

“I would like to say a special thank you to Ismail, the coordinator from Kseifa. He was an excellent partner in bringing this together.”

Kol haKavod to these amazing youth! An example to us all.

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