The Center for a Shared Society builds mutually beneficial cooperation between pairs of neighboring Jewish and Arab towns through its Shared Communities program. Municipal leadership and citizens work across the divide to facilitate joint initiatives responding to common needs, goals and interests.
The Shared Communities program builds structured, mutually beneficial cooperation between neighboring Jewish and Arab communities divided by increasing tensions and mutual alienation that threaten the democratic fabric of Israel today. Municipal leadership and citizens are engaged across the Jewish-Arab divide through the creation of inter-community mechanisms and frameworks that facilitate joint action responding to common needs, goals and interests. Communities are linked through bi-lateral pairs as well as multi-lateral regional clusters that will facilitate replication across Israel – advancing peaceful economic and social development on a national scale.
Givat Haviva established a partnership between the first pair of communities - the Jewish town of Pardes Hanna-Karkur (population – 32,000) and the neighboring Arab village of Kafr Kara (population – 17,000). Based on the success of this pilot, Givat Haviva established a partnership between the predominately Jewish Menashe Regional Council (population - 13,300) and neighboring Arab city of Baqa al-Gharbiyye (population - 25,875) in 2013. The partnership between the Arab Local Council of Maale Iron (5 villages) and Megiddo Regional Council (13 communities) celebrated a year of joint activity in November, 2015. The fourth and newest partnership is underway between the Arab Local Council of Zemer (4 villages) and the Jewish Regional Council of Emek Hefer (17 communities).
Situated in the Wadi Ara region, these communities were strategically chosen due to the proposals of land swaps in this area in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. It is expected that these pairs will advance the program to embody a cluster of communities in a key demographic area.