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Israel’s Ministry of Education adopts Abraham Fund’s ‘Language as Cultural Bridge’ Programme

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From http://groups.google.com/group/tafi-uk/browse_thread/thread/fd26291b8695cc0d:

From: Laurence Kaye <laurence.kaye@abrahamfund.org.uk>
Date: 16 September 2010 19:36
Subject: [tafi-uk] Major coup for TAFI – Israel’s Ministry of Justice adopts TAF’s ‘Language as Cultural Bridge’ Programme
To: tafi <tafi-uk@googlegroups.com>
Cc: Simon Arenson <simon.arenson@abrahamfund.org.uk>

You may have seen the BBC’s report – see link here – about the Israeli Ministry of Education’s recent decision to make Arabic-language classes compulsory in state schools. But what the story doesn’t tell you is that Government is doing this by adopting TAFI’s flagship ‘Language as Cultural Bridge’ Initiative as government policy. What this means ‘on the ground’ is that in Israel’s Northern District the programme will expanded from 96 schools to 250 in the current school year. What’s even better is that the Government is now proudly promoting this its own project.
TAFI’s goal is to bring about a shared society in Israel between its Arab and Jewish citizens by working with the Government to bring about the policy changes needed to turn this dream into reality. TAFI’s Initiatives are the means by which TAFI works to bring about these policy changes. The Government’s adoption of TAFI’s ‘Language as a Cultural Bridge’ programme is a perfect example of how this strategy can work.
Our new Executive Director Simon Arenson will be writing to you soon with an update about our plans but, in the meanwhile, I wanted to share this news with you. It shows that your continuing investment in UK-TAFI is an investment that will pay real dividends in bringing about the kind of Israeli society of which we can all be proud.
If you want any further information about our work, please make contact with Simon, whose email address is above.
Kind regards
Laurie Kaye
Chair, UK Friends of the Abraham Fund Initiatives

For more news from the UK Friends of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, you can subscribe to the mailing list here: http://groups.google.com/group/tafi-uk

Written by yishaym

September 17, 2010 at 11:12 am

Moving Forward After Gaza: What next for Jewish-Arab coexistence in Israel? Mohammad Darawshe, London, 26 Feb.

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http://www.eventbrite.com/event/291813823

UK Friends of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, in co-operation with the Foreign Press Association present

Moving Forward After Gaza: What next for Jewish-Arab coexistence in Israel?
A briefing by

Mohammad Darawshe

Director of the Abraham Fund

Event Description
The Gaza war has generated a public outcry, with thousands taking to the streets in London and around the world. In Israel, tensions between the Jewish and Arab communities have risen, threatening current cooperation efforts. From a unique perspective of a coexistence organisation between the Jewish and Arab communities, director Mohammad Darawshe of the Abraham Fund Initiatives will address the situation on the ground. He will outline the much needed action from governments and other agencies and will provide examples of tried and tested model projects already successfully implemented, which demonstrate that coexistence can work, but needs to be supported.

About Mohammad Darawshe
Mr Darawshe has been the Director of the Abraham Fund Initiatives since 2005 and he has presented lectures and papers at many international and academic institutions such as the U.S. congress, the European parliament, NATO Defense College, the World Economic Forum, and most recently the Herzlia Conference. He won numerous awards, including the Peacemaker award, bestowed by the Catholic Theological Union of Chicago and the Peace and Security Award of the World Association of NGOs. In 2008, he was elected as a council member of his own hometown Iksal.
UK friends of the Abraham Fund

Written by yishaym

February 23, 2009 at 2:05 am

my short talk yesterday

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I was planning to post my notes for the Jewish Socialist After Gaza event beforehand. Of course, I was still writing them at 7pm. So here they are:

The title of this evening is “After the war on Gaza: What next for the Palestinians? And how can Jews here and in Israel help bring about a just peace?” I would like to start by disqualifying my self from answering both questions. First of all, I don’t think I have a right to tell anyone – Palestinian, British, Israeli, Muslim, Christian, Jewish or other – what they should do. Even if I did, my belief is that the less you tell people what to do, the better a job they do at figuring it out. Second, and perhaps more critical, I have a serious difficulty with the juxtaposition of Palestinians and Jews implied by the title. I see that distinction as the root cause of the current tragic situation, and any statement that emphasises it is dangerous. I will get back to that in a moment.
So what can I offer you tonight? Only this: my fears and hopes for the land I love, and my thoughts about what I should do. If you can help me by commenting on these, I am grateful. If you will find some of the questions I ask myself resonating with your own, then perhaps your time has not been wasted. If not, my apologies. I’ll try to keep it short.
Sitting here, looking there, I feel sad, confused and disempowered. I watch with horror as governments who claim to represent me and defend my loved ones launch attacks on Lebanon and Gaza, killing thousands of civilians. I hear, unbelieving, how my friends and family justify these attacks as inevitable acts of self-defence. I see, and cannot explain, the rise of Lieberman and resurrection of Netanyahu. I know what I would be doing if I was there – but I’m not. The events seem to be rushing at me at torrential pace, I feel the urgent need to respond, react, do something – but just can’t see a path ahead, my instinct is to “just do anything, anything but silence”. In fact, as paradoxical as it may seem, this is probably the right time to stand still for a moment and reflect. Standing still is better than rushing headlong over a cliff.
We hear a lot about the two peoples, the two narratives. In fact, we have many peoples and many narratives: there are Druze, Muslims, Christians, Samaritans, Bedouin, 1st, 3rd, 10th generation Israeli Jews, Israeli Palestinians, Jews of Arab heritage, and so on. Yet we all have one land, one history, and if any – one future. Denying these facts is what I see as the first source of our predicament. The second, related issue is that this one land speaks two languages. No, not Hebrew and Arabic. I’m talking of the language of life and the language of death, the language of hope, and the language of despair.
For me, as I learned from my friend Mohammad Darawshe, despair is not an option. So what can I do? What I have been doing – only more. Side myself with those who deny the boundaries between people, who seek the common humanity in all, who continue to build our common future.
A small example: earlier this week, Yuli Tamir, the Israeli minister of education, adopted the revolutionary recommendations of the committee for “education for shared life”. This committee, chaired by Professor Gavriel Solomon and Dr. Mohamad Isaweer, and initiated by the Abraham Fund argued that Jewish and Palestinian children of Israel should all learn and appreciate the culture, history and aspirations of each other, and should acknowledge common values of democracy, respect for minorities and civic and social justice.
You may ask: what has this to do with Gaza? And I say: everything. If such a programme would have been in place 20 years ago, we wouldn’t have been looking back at Gaza.

Unfortunately, Karma Nablusi had to cancel on the last moment. The convoy she had planned to join, going into Gaza, had been rescheduled a day earlier.

David Rosenberg opened the evening with a review of the growing dissent among UK Jews towards the actions of the Israeli government. He then moved on to criticise the established mainstream (and arguably self-appointed) leadership for silencing any discording voices. A theme that was picked up by many of the commentators later on.

Gerald Kaufman MP made several references to his YouTubed speech at the commons, and in fact echoed several of the themes in that speech. Without question an eloquent and well-rehersed speaker, he portrayed the position of the disallosioned British zionist. A picture somewhat wasted on the audience in the room, who had no part of Zionism to start with.

Then the floodgates where opened. In true Jewish socialist tradition, everyone was entitiled to an equal voice, and indeed several people in the audience pulled note sheets from their pockets and read speeches longer than mine. Most of them seemed to focus on the marginilisation of Jewish radicals. I found that confusing, first as Leila told me later, I thought we were here to talk about Gaza. Second, in my dictionary radical means way-off-centre. If you don’t want to be in the margins, why define yourself as radical?

Anyway, on and on it went. I felt that most of the comments where essentially historical reviews and ethical manifestos, but the chair, Julia Bard, thought there were many fresh ideas for action. Maybe. Sometimes sitting on the stage focuses your hearing on certain things. On the other hand, I might have a different idea on what constitutes action, a more Newtonian view.

I did mention the UK Friends of the Abraham Fund, and some people asked me for details. Here’s the website:

http://www.abrahamfund.org.uk/

Which is really a couple of pages with basic details, as part of the general Abraham Fund site. Probably the best way to keep up with our activities it to join the mailing list. email tafi-uk-subscribe@googlegroups.com or, for general enquiries, call info@abrahamfund.org.uk

Written by yishaym

February 12, 2009 at 6:22 pm

Karma Nabulsi, Gerald Kaufman MP, David Rosenberg and me (feb. 11th)

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The Jewish Socialist Group has invited me to take part in a conversation on “After the war on Gaza: What next for the Palestinians? And how can Jews here and in Israel help bring about a just peace?”

I wouldn’t consider myself eligible to make any suggestions regarding the first question. The fate and strategic choices of the Palestinians are a matter for the Palestinians to decide. I may have my private opinions, but I have no business making them public. As for the second bit, well, again, I’m in a bit of an uneasy situation. I don’t feel comfortable sitting here, in London, and telling my friends in Israel what they should do. On the other hand, I never quite felt part of the British Jewish community.

So what exactly am I doing there?

I’ll try to post some notes closer to the event, but here’s a spoiler. I’d like to start by challenging the title. First, I argue that we need to reject the Israeli-Palestinian dichotomy. Yes, we are two peoples. But we have one land, one past, and only one future. Any discussion that positions Israelis and Palestinians as two sides is part of the problem, not the solution. Second, I urge anyone sincerely concerned with the human tragedy of the land to suspend the call for justice. I know that sounds cruel. But it is a necessary sacrifice, for one man’s justice is another man’s death. I have life, happiness and dignity on the top of my list of priorities. Justice is a bit further down the line.

Still, if I can’t speak for the Palestinians, the Israelis or the British Jews, who am I speaking for? Myself, for what its worth. I can tell you what I believe I would be doing if I was there, and what I think I should be doing here. I am a true believer in democracy, empowerment and hope. By this I mean that I truly believe that change will only come from the people affected taking actions of hope. If I was there, I would be working with such people. From here, the most I can do is support them in any way I can. I hope you will do the same.


Wednesday 11th February, 7.30pm

Tudor Room, Imperial Hotel, Russell Square, London WC1B 5BB

Public meeting – all welcome

After the war on Gaza

What next for the Palestinians?

And how can Jews here and in Israel help

bring about a just peace?

Speakers:  Karma Nabulsi,  Gerald Kaufman MP,

Yishay Mor, David Rosenberg

Karma Nabulsi is an Oxford-based academic who formerly worked as a PLO diplomat at the UN and in Beirut, Tunis and Britain.

Gerald Kaufman has been a Labour MP since 1970 and has been an outspoken supporter of a just peace in Israel/Palestine.

Yishay Mor is an Israeli peace and social empowerment activist

David Rosenberg is on the editorial committee of Jewish Socialist magazine

Organised by the Jewish Socialists’ Group www.jewishsocialist.org.uk

Over? We haven’t even started

with 6 comments

Only 30 hours after British intellectuals issue their ultimatum, Israel’s unilateral cease fire comes into effect. See David? We told you – these Israelis, they only understand one language.

So what now? Nothing. Gaza is still in ruins, its hospitals full of wounded. Israeli kids are still afraid to sleep. But the European left can sleep well tonight, and tomorrow return to contemplate the state of its holiday homes.

The last three weeks have been soaked in pain, anger and sadness. I am horrified by the pictures from Gaza and the cold facts of the carnage. I share the distress of families in southern Israel who live in constant fear. I make no comparison. Both are unacceptable. I am angry at the Israeli government for choosing a path of violence, and angry at the Hamas for leading the way to this path. This was a was on two peoples, conducted by two armies. The military actions of the Israeli government provided its citizens no more security than the absurd provocations of the Hamas provided its people dignity. I am sad for my friends, family and countrymen, who are blinded by fear and anger, to a point that then become numb to the pain of others.

But when it comes to the reactions I see around me, I am bemused and frustrated. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, in smaller portions, I’ve seen it all before. Some call it anti-semitism. I won’t even grant them this halo. No, here wearing a Kaffiah is a fashion statement, and so is boycotting Israeli goods. You know what? I’m just bloody sick of it. Sick of hearing about pro-Israeli vs. pro-Palestinian, sick of hearing “like we did with South Africa”, sick of hearing the rape of language, the intolerable ease with which frightful words are casually scattered like guji berries on your morning yoghurt. Words which should be reserved for the worst events in history. Rwanda was a genocide. Srebrenica was a massacre, as was Sabra and Shatilla.

Let me spell it out. There is no “us” and “them”, there are those who want to live, and those who want to kill. If you really care, help the people doing good on the ground. All your chanting and picketing doesn’t twitch a single donkey’s hair in the middle east. It hasn’t saved the life of a single child. Hamas will still do what it thinks it should, and so will the Israeli government. I’ll let you in on a secret: you didn’t topple Apartheid either: De Klerk and Mandella did it. All your fancy petitions and demonstrations serve one purpose: to make you feel better about yourself, allow you to feel morally superior. Fuck that. Save the money you spend on your post-demo cappuccino, and donate it to one of these. Or pay for them to publish a half-page ad in the guardian in place of your righteous hate banter.

http://www.yeshgvul.org/

http://phr.org.il/

http://www.taayush.org/

http://www.combatantsforpeace.org/

http://www.abrahamfund.org.uk

http://www.awalls.org/

Oi, here we go again (or: boycott, yes, but do it right)

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Engage tells us that the national executive of UCU backs new boycott proposal. Engage give a very well-thought review of why the boycott is morally wrong and strategically stupid. I won’t repeat their arguments – go read them yourself. You should also read Shuli Dichter‘s account of why the Supreme Monitoring Council, the most broadly representative umbrella organization of the Arabs of Israel, directors of Arab non-profit organizations and the joint associations of Arabs and Jews did not accede to the boycott calls, despite the pressure they were under to do just that. Shuli is the co-director of Sikkuy, the Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality. His view is shared by Mohammad Darawshe, the Abraham Fund’s Director of Development for Europe and Israel. When asked recently, his response was clear and simple: the boycott is stupid, harmful and cheap.

And here’s a twist of historical humor: this news of a fresh attempt to boycott Israels bastions of forward thinking come at the same week when we are flooded with rabid rabbis calling for discriminant and even violent action against Arabs. What better illustration of the ludicrous hypocrisy of the boycott campaign? I mean, if you really care about anything other than your smug sense of moral superiority, your pleasures of intellectual colonialism, how about boycotting Dov Lior and Shmuel Eliyahu? Or better yet, supporting the Abraham Fund in taking legal action against them?

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