In this episode of PEACE with Penny we have the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Thabet Abu Rass of The Abraham Initiatives. The Abraham Initiatives is a Jewish-Israeli and Palestinian-Israeli organization that advances social inclusion and equal rights for Israel’s Palestinian citizens by influencing public policy, shaping public opinion, and demonstrating practical models for a shared society. They envision Israel as a democratic state, homeland of the Jewish people and all its citizens, which guarantees and protects the full citizenship and equal rights of its Palestinian citizens; where Jewish- and Palestinian-Israelis co-create a cohesive, inclusive society; and that exists peacefully alongside an independent, sovereign Palestinian state.
Their work includes many projects promoting education for a shared society including instruction for all ages, some projects partner Jewish Israeli schools, with Arab-Palestinian schools to encourage dialogue between the two peoples, and language-focused projects bring Jewish Israeli teachers to teach Hebrew in Arab-Palestinian schools and Palestinian teachers teach Arabic in Jewish Israeli schools.
For young adults, there is a project that includes fifteen colleges and universities providing a shared, inclusive space for Jewish and Arab students and staff. There is a program for high school students called Living in One Land and the pre-army academy helps the Jewish young adults understand Arab society in Israel through a year-long program of encounters, tours, and lectures.
Other important programs include making communities safe to combat violence in Arab towns, programs to promote positive interactions within shared cities, promoting Arab-centered stories within the media, and the Abraham Initiatives promotes policy, presenting recommendations to lawmakers and senior bureaucrats on issues of key importance to improve Jewish-Arab relations and the status and visibility of Israel’s Arab citizens. Finally, the Abraham Initiatives awards Champions of Shared Society prizes to individuals or organizations, in recognition of significant action taken to promote integration and/or equality between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel.
After six years of serving on The Abraham Initiatives’ international board, Dr. Thabet Abu Rass joined as co-CEO in 2014. Dr. Abu Rass has significantly strengthened The Abraham Initiatives’ practical and strategic partnerships with key public and political leaders in Arab society, and advocated programs and directives at the highest levels of government. His expert knowledge, strategic positioning, and experience in the field have directly impacted the breadth, programmatic impact, and direction of the organization’s work, transforming the landscape of Jewish¬-Arab relations in Israel. This is an organization of both Jews and Arabs working together to support the Arab citizens of Israel. Helping Arabs achieve access to equal services, ultimately helps all citizens and strengthens Israel.
May You Live in Peace, שלום and سلام.
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