Bridge the Divide – An Update

In response to the intercommunal violence that raged across Israel in May 2021, the work of NIF and Shatil to advance a shared society has taken on new urgency. This violence offered cause for hope alongside despondency, as Arab-Jewish initiatives that aim to demonstrate solidarity, a commitment to peace and shared living have flourished.

The infrastructure that NIF has been building for years—by fostering shared society organisations, engaging the media, developing leadership, coordinating work around issues of common cause, and deepening connections between civil society and local government—has helped new initiatives grow, while sustaining joint work now that the immediate crises have subsided.

We thought we would share a brief update on this work structured around the three primary strategies that are guiding our response

Voices of Hope

We received 600 applications in response to the call for proposals to our 1 million shekel “Voices of Hope” fund to support new initiatives to promote and develop a shared society. Our team in Israel are currently working up a shortlist from which 20-30 grants will be made by the end of the month. What is heartening is that a significant proportion of these applications focus on the younger generation and are based in Israel’s mixed cities. Whilst we cannot fund all 600 applications, we are inviting them to a series of online seminars and offering bespoke training resources and networking opportunities.

Emergency Response

Alongside funding longer-term, new projects through our ‘Bridge the Divide’ Crisis Appeal, NIF responded in real time on the ground with emergency grants. This has included funding Jewish-Arab vigils and solidarity events, support organisations defending individuals whose rights were infringed and funding a public campaign that amplified the message that “most Arabs and Jews in Israel reject violence and believe that the two groups can live together in peace” (aChord Center, 2021) to counteract reactionary voices and increase media coverage of joint Jewish-Arab activities. The multimedia campaign included: billboards in mixed cities, radio advertisements, social media marketing, and media appearances by leading personalities all echoing this message. The campaign reached over 2 million people and had a marked effect on public and media discourse.

Deeper Investment in the Long Term

We continue to support the intrepid work of our core shared society grantees through our grants and the work of our action arm, Shatil. For example Shatil has convened “The Jewish-Arab Partnership Task Force” to devise and implement actions that advance equality and partnership between Jewish and Palestinian citizens in Israel.

July 2021