Zoom program to discuss building bridges between Israeli Jews, Arabs

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Did the recent crises in Israel forever change the landscape of community-building between Jews and Arabs, or were they just more roadblocks to overcome in the quest for a shared society?

At noon on July 22, David Weisberg, CEO of the Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County, will lead a Zoom discussion with two Israelis on this issue. Both Tareq Abu Hamed and Asaf Ron have experience with on-the-ground community-building.

Abu Hamed, the incoming executive director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, is the first Palestinian to head an academic institution in Israel. He is currently the academic director and head of the Center for Renewable Energy at the Arava Institute, which is situated at Kibbutz Ketura. Abu Hamed has also been the vice chief scientist and director of engineering research at the Israeli Ministry of Science, Technology and Space.

Asaf Ron has been the director of the Beit HaGefen Arab Jewish Cultural Center, in Haifa, Israel, since 2010, working with community leaders, clergy and the municipality to direct initiatives for coexistent life in Haifa. Previously, Asaf directed the education department of the Gilboa Regional Council, where he initiated activities for stimulating partnerships between the Arab and Jewish schools in the region. From 2000 to 2003, Ron was the Israeli emissary in Hartford, Connecticut.        

The Arava Institute is a scientific research organization that advances cross-border environmental cooperation in the face of political conflict. Beit HaGefen is a pioneer in intercultural dialogue based in Haifa, a city whose residents include large numbers of Arabs. The institute operates a number of shared spaces where people of diverse identities can join together in culture, art, education and tourism.

For a link to join the free program, register at

https://jewishphilanthropyct.salsalabs.org/bridgebuilding/index.html?. For more information, contact Larry Katz at lkatz@jewishallianceri.org.

LARRY KATZ (lkatz@jewishallianceri.org) is the director of Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island.