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“The Battle against Racism” – a 2 day seminar for Sadaka Reut’s youth

“The Battle against Racism” – a 2 day seminar for Sadaka Reut’s youth
February 1, 2012 sadaka reut

 Sadaka Reut’s Youth Seminar “The Battle against Racism”

On Friday the 24th of January 2012 Sadaka Reut held a 2 day youth seminar with more than 75 Arab and Jewish participating youth from Jaffa, Lyd/Lod, Kalansawa, Natanya, Kufr-Kasem, Musmus, and Tel-Aviv.  Like always, the youth were randomly divided into bi-nationally mixed groups co-facilitated by a Palestinian and a Jewish facilitator. During the seminar, that was held in Givat Haviva as part of  “From margins to Mainstream” project , the youth participated in several workshops on the topic of racism focusing on their personal day to day experience of racism, as well as on racism on the institutional level. These discussions were based on racist events that unfortunately become more and more prevalent in Israeli society.

On the evening of Yom Kippur, the most sacred day in the Jewish faith, Christian and Muslim cemeteries in Jaffa were vandalized with slogans like “Death to Arabs.” A few weeks later, a famous restaurant was sprayed with similar slogans and was then burnt. Those two sad events made it clear that racism has crossed over from being a form of speech to direct violent action. Also, while tension between Arab and Jews communities is growing, Jewish Ethiopian citizens find themselves facing racism and discrimination from the general public and the institutions.

In the seminar the youth concluded that direct action is needed to work together against racism.  Therefore they created an anti-racism sticker which they will distribute in their home towns in the coming months. Some of the slogans that the youth came up with demonstrated their commitment to battle racism: “Caution: Racism in dangerous to your health” and “We are all… different”.

Adi Maoz, the Co-CEO of the movement said: “In Sadaka-Reut we claim that ignoring or silencing racist action in fact acts as a sign of approval or cooperation with these actions. Therefore, this year we decided to have the seminar focus on racism to give highest importance for Arab-Jewish actions against racism that is relevant to us all.”

Apart from the workshops focused on racism there were many fun activities allowing the participants to get to know each other better and to create a basis for mutual work.  Adan Tatour, an Arab 9th grader from Jaffa mentioned that the seminar was a moving experience for her. “In all of the workshops we learnt new things and managed to see things from many different perspectives” she recalled. Maya Goner, a Jewish participant from Tel-Aviv, also in the 9th grade, enjoyed best the workshops that dealt with stereotypes, and “Ad-Busting”. Tatour summarized the seminar as a rare opportunity for an encounter of deep conversations between Arabs and Jews.

Lisa Hanania, the seminar coordinator, was very pleased from the results of the seminar and said “We truly managed to enrich the youth and allow them to be actively engaged with issues concerning racism. The fact that Arab and Jewish youth can also hang out together and deepen their friendship is also important.”

Sapir Hadad, age 17, wrote a moving letter 2 days after the seminar and posted it on the youths’ bi-lingual facebook wall. This exceptional personal letter says it all:

“When I boarded the bus that took us to the bi-national seminar there were many kids that I didn’t know before, but because I have been participating in Sadaka Reut’s activities for three years now I immediately introduced myself without fear of being judged or not welcomed. When we arrived in Givat Haviva for the seminar, the gate closed behind us and left us all together for 2 days in a parallel exceptional world. In this world everybody understands everybody, even though we speak different languages. In this world we all stand at the same level, we are all equal. An awesome atmosphere of unconditional love, that God would have been proud to see, was felt. I can be myself a 100%, no masks needed. This overall feeling of acceptance created a sense of tranquility in my heart but also a disturbing feeling… that this is all temporary… that I will wake up at home when the seminar is over to a confused reality… a reality of helplessness that characterizes my country and my society… the “real” reality, out side of the Sadaka Reut’s seminar. Who knows… Sometimes dreams do come true.

Sapir Hadad

Dora Group, Natanya

Indeed, the Sadaka-Reut seminars present a unique chance for action and dialogue. Brave Arab and Jewish youth working together against the different forms of racism will hopefully set the tone to a new reality, where racist actions, whether towards Arab or Jews is not acceptable.

Disclaimer: This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Sadaka Reut and in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.

These are some of the moving comments that the youth posted right after the seminar.