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Photos & text: Lydia Aisenberg
Childhood friends from Newcastle, England, Judith Sischy and Lynn Leon Ross were among the many visitors to the recently opened HAMSIN-50 exhibition at the Givat Haviva Collaborative Art Center & Peace Gallery.
The friends had visited the Givat Haviva campus in the past, but never together.  Lynn, who emigrated to Israel in 2010 and lives in Hofit, a rural community in central Israel, actually had an exhibtion of her very powerful art work - entitled Identities - shown at the Givat Haviva gallery in 1995 after which the exhibition moved to Haifa for another successful showing. 
Lynn’s 1995 solo exhibition of drawings and photographs was officially opened at Givat Haviva by the then British Ambassador Andrew Burns who was not only very impressed with the British born artists creations but also at the time made very positive comments about Givat Haviva’s achievements and aspirations for the future.  He also presented a number of books to the Givat Ha…
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Text and photos: Lydia Aisenberg
“I have been to Israel at least 20 times in the past but for some reason I never visited the Givat Haviva Center for Shared Society, and have to admit to this being a real mistake,” German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier told hundreds of Israeli Jewish and Arab educators, Israeli teens, overseas students and local Jewish and Arab dignitaries during a visit to the doyen peace education campus in Wadi Ara.

“My wife and I have been really touched meeting old friends again here in Israel but also in the making of new ones as we are experiencing such a warm and friendly an atmosphere such as here today in Givat Haviva, and for that we thank you,” said President Steinmeier toward the end of a 2 hour visit to the 1949 founded organization which he described as being “an isle of hope.”
“Where politicians failed you are succeeding in showing that Jews and Arabs can live together in Israel and as you say, the goal must be to show youngsters co-existence is just …

Today is “Nakba Day”

The day of the “Nakba” – the “catastrophe” – is the day the Palestinian people commemorates the tragedy that befell them in 1948, when between 700,000 and 1,000,000 Palestinians became refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Arab states, and other places around the world, and many others became “internal refugees,” uprooted from their homes, who came to live elsewhere in Israel. The Nakba is an open wound that burns and throbs in Palestinian collective memory. For twenty percent of the citizens of our country, Israel, Nakba Day symbolizes their national trauma of expulsion and destruction, and the personal and family trauma of losing relatives, homes, land, trees and flowers – a loss that has accompanied their families and people since 1948. In order for us to be able to have a shared life here, we must heal the rifts and accept our different identities. In order to have a future of peace, we must build a foundation of a shared society in the present, based on recognition, equality, trust,…


Photographs & text: Lydia Aisenberg A small pocket compass dropped in Slovakia by pre-State heroine Haviva Reik, the inside cover engraved with both the initials of her Hebrew name as well as that of her British Army nom de guerre Ada Robinson, was recently presented - 72 years after her execution in Slovakia by the Nazis – to the Givat Haviva Center for Shared Society, an educational campus in Israel named after her. Haviva Reik, a member of the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement in her teenage days in the Slovakian town of Banska Bystrica prior to Aliya in 1939, became a member of Kibbutz Ma’anit (situated next door to a former British Army base that later became Givat Haviva), was one of the first women to be recruited to the ranks of the Palmach and trained by the British Royal Air Force as a parachutist together with her close friends Hannah Senesh, Surika Braverman and some 30 men. Reik was in Banska Bystrica’s Zionist Federation building when a group of Freiwillige Schuzstaffel (…

The courage to change the paradigm

From the Ha’aretz Oct 2016 supplement “Israel at the Cutting Edge”

Leaders//Innovation Talk
Innovation can mean – and must mean – casting aside paradigms that are no longer relevant. For us, at Givat Haviva, it has meant changing the way we view shared life between Jews and Arabs in Israel.
Founded in 1949 by the kibbutz federation, Givat Haviva was and remains the pioneering organization tasked with promoting what we used to call “coexistence” in Israel. If coexistence was the goal, dialogue was the means of bringing about change.
The theory was simple: In a state in which Jews and Arabs live in separate communities and attend separate schools, we must bring them together for joint encounters in which they can get to know one another and develop a basis for good relations.
In October 2000, with the outbreak of the second intifada, that premise of coexistence crumbled – as Israeli Arabs identified with their people, the Palestinians. Arab citizens of Israe…

IAA_Yaniv prize speech

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…

Givat Haviva Fourth Annual Conference Address

A week ago, for a moment, it seemed like a ray of light pierced the darkness. The prime minister and the leader of the opposition spoke together about a historic opportunity for peace that would justify a partnership between them. By the next day it was clear that the light was from the engine of the train of war and hate … and we got a right-wing nationalist government. In the choice between peace and war, between democracy and ethnocracy, in the choice between a politics of fear and a politics of hope, again and again my beloved country chooses the slippery slope that leads to ruin. But we have not gathered here today for the sake of anger and wailing. We have gathered here to strengthen the construction, the partnership, the hope, the true light and not the false. We have gathered together because we are connected partners in the society which is marching toward that slippery slope, but we are also working to prevent the crash and to create an alternative. 2500 years ago, the grea…