A Shared Civil Society
The President of Israel, Mr. Reuven Rivlin, stated, in his groundbreaking speech at the Herzliya Conference in June 2015, that the Israeli society is in need of a wake-up call. In his address, which became known as “The Tribal Speech”, he discussed the demographics of Israeli society and its division into four tribes, warning of the disintegration of society due to social alienation between the different groups: Ultra-Orthodox, Arabs, National Religious and Secular.
We feel that the number of “tribes” in the Israeli society is even larger. Within the Arab sector there are many sub-sectors who do not mix together and also within the Jewish sector there are further divisions such as: residents from the center of the country as opposed to the periphery, residents of Ethiopian origin or the Former Soviet Union and more.
The Israeli society is one of the most divided in the world, with limited opportunities for mixing between the different sectors. This is primarily due to the fact that each population has its own educational system and residential regions and is served by its own media. In addition, recently, the social discourse has become more extreme and we are seeing more incidents of racism with legitimization of verbal and physical abuse both by civilians and political leaders.
This sectorial divide is also evident in volunteering programs throughout the country. Each population works within its own community and even organizations which include young adults from the periphery, create homogenous groups of volunteers who meet homogenous groups within the community where they work.
In 2012, Ma’ase commissioned the Zofnat Institute to conduct research examining the concept of a “shared civil society”. The aim of the research was to come to a better understanding of the concept, to learn about practical applications in Israel and around the world, and to identify existing and future opportunities within Ma’ase’s activities to advance this concept.
The results of the study showed that in order to advance a shared civil society we must follow 4 principles:
- Equal Varied RepresentationA society where all sectors and cultures are represented and where it is accepted that all young people have equal rights for social advancement.
- Social InvolvementAll members work towards social change in the Israeli society, and not just for their own personal development
- A Joint Value SystemSocial involvement revolves around values of democracy and equality. Ma’ase’s values of equal opportunity, tolerance, volunteering, mutual assistance, social and personal responsibility are in accordance of these basic values.
- Encounters and dialogue with all sectors of society whilst consolidating individual and shared identity.
The Ma’ase Shared Encounters Seminars bring together all volunteer-year participants from Ma’ase's programs to discuss identity, and learn together about different aspects of the Israeli society.
The Greenhouse project applies all four principles outlined above for advancing a shared civil society, through multicultural encounters. This allows participants to learn together about democratic values.
Volunteering Together is an innovative project jointly initiated by Ma’ase and the Acre Municipality with the aim of promoting social cohesion and strengthening society by creating multicultural groups of young adults volunteering in cities with multicultural populations…