A bit of hope for a change
Next week we’re hosting Mohammad Darawshe from the Abraham Fund for a series of talks in London.
This just came in the mail:
I’m sitting in Ben Gurion airport, just about to fly back from Israel where my wife and I had the chance to see some of the work that the Abraham Fund Initiatives is doing on the ground. We started by attending a weekly team meeting at the Fund’s offices just outside Jerusalem. What impressed us was the commitment of the team – Arabs and Jews working together – to tackle really tough issues and the talent, energy and honesty they bring to their work.
We visited a number of the TAFI initiatives. Although we’ve read about them on paper, seeing them in operation brought home the complexity of the issues, the sheer scale of the work that TAFI is doing and the positive impact it is having on peoples’ lives
We visited a police station in Lod, one of the most deprived towns in Israel, infamous for its drug problems – we saw the dealers on the street! We were taken round by a police commander. Lod is one of the areas taking part in TAFI’s police initiative. With the benefit of TAFI’s training in culturally sensitive policing and mediation, the police there are helping to tackle profound social issues. Their work goes far beyond policing and into areas of social work, both within communities and between the Jewish and Arab population.
A consequence of TAFI’s work is that it shifts the perceptions that Jews and Arabs hold about each other. As part of its ‘Language as a Cultural Bridge’ programme, we visited a Jewish School where children learning Arabic were enthusiastically engaged in a bi-lingual puppet show presented by an Arab puppet theatre ‘Diwan aL’joun, another TAFI partner. The puppeteers alternated between Arabic and Hebrew which gave the children an educational benefit and an experience of Arabic folk stories. It helps to bridge the gap between communities.
The ‘Mirkam’ project in the Galilee started as an educational initiative but has broadened its remit to cover social and economic issues affecting Arab and Jewish towns. Not only is TAFI bringing Jewish and Arab schools together, but also helping the Jewish and Arab communities to identify and meet shared needs. For example, both communities needed a facility for the visually impaired. TAFI helped both communities in the area to advocate for a facility which they could share for the benefit of their visually impaired citizens.
Whilst all of these initiatives have value in their own right, they demonstrate that communities can work together towards a more cohesive and co-operative society.
Meeting the TAFI team and their partners, and seeing their work first hand, confirmed for us the importance of TAFI’s work in helping to create opportunities for change. Our heartfelt thanks to Mohammad, Amnon and the terrific team they lead to giving us the time and opportunity to see TAFI’s work first hand.
As you all know, Mohammad is joining us in London for the week’s programme of cross community talks. It’s a great opportunity to hear more about the TAFI’s work first hand. I look forward to seeing seeing you at one or more events. If you have any friends you’d like to bring, we would be delighted to see them as well. You can see the full programme of the TAFI website – http://tinyurl.com/2gpdax and as a calendar of events at http://tinyurl.com/2y2g67
Chair , UK Friends of the Abraham Fund Initiatives
Everyone likes to talk about injustice, discrimination, inequality etc. The reason I got involved with the Abraham Fund Initiatives (aka TAFI) was that instead of talking, it tries to do something about it.
If you want to learn more about the Abraham Fund, check out the website: http://www.abrahamfund.org
If you’re in the UK, there’s also: http://www.abrahamfund.org.uk