My father, Ya’acov Sagee, was a Jew born in Europe. The Second World War, which was the Holocaust for my people, led to the death of a third of our population. My father became a refugee and an orphan. A child without a home. In July 1948, upon the establishment of the State of Israel, he came to the kibbutz where I live to this day and where I raise my own children. Kibbutz Ein Hashofet. Only there did he find his home and his freedom. Three months before he arrived at the kibbutz, which was founded in 1937, my kibbutz’ Palestinian neighbors from the village Kafrayn lost their homes and their freedom in the war known by my country as “The War of Independence" and by the Palestinians as "The Nakba," the catastrophe.
When I was a boy, my father, a Holocaust survivor, took me to the ruins of Kafrayn and taught me the most important lesson I have ever received: “An injustice is not corrected by creating a new injustice,” he told me. “Until there is justice and peace for all the residents of this land, our future is not secure.”
Since then, my life’s mission has been to bring to my conflicted and bleeding country peace, justice, and equality for all its citizens of both peoples who share this land.
Givat Haviva is the pioneer and the largest organization that has been serving this ideal already for 67 years. We operate out of a deep sense of mission to build an equal partnership between Jews and Arabs in Israel and the Middle East.
It is a great honor for us to receive the Austrian government’s appreciation and recognition for our activity.
This year marks the 50th year of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. The State of Israel that was founded, justly, in order to provide a national home for the Jewish people, and without which the Jewish people would no longer exist, is preventing the Palestinian people from having their own national home.
This is a huge injustice and it is killing us all. It kills our children, it kills our future, and it creates very difficult conditions for Givat Haviva to succeed with our activities for the sake of a shared and equal society that will ensure the essence of Israel both as the national home of the Jewish people and as a State of all of its citizens that acts as a full and genuine democracy.
We at Givat Haviva will come out of this ceremony with a strong tail-wind to return to work within our divided communities and with the Arab and Jewish children of our country, so that they can connect and create a future of hope, of partnership, and of peace.