Month of Ramadan initiatives strengthen Jewish-Arab relation...
Month of Ramadan initiatives strengthen Jewish-Arab relations
Observance of the holy month of Ramadan began on Monday, June 6th for Muslims across the globe, including the approximately 1.4 million Muslim citizens of Israel. Ramadan marks a special period of reflection, prayer, charity, and family gatherings for the community. Throughout the month, Muslims fast daily, beginning at sunrise and breaking each evening at sunset with a large feast called Iftar.
A number of civil society organizations in Israel have developed programming to turn this major Muslim holiday into an opportunity for enhanced Jewish-Arab interaction, understanding and neighborly relations -- including English language tours for visitors to Israel.
Sikkuy: The Association for Civil Equality in Israel
Ramadan Nights Tours: In an effort to increase both tourism and strengthen Jewish-Arab relations and familiarity, Sikkuy, organizes tours Arab localities so that Jewish Israelis and others can get a taste of Ramadan. The USAID-funded "Ramdan Nights" initiative is now in its tenth year, running dozens of tours in Arab towns and cities including Tira, Sakhnin, Shfar-am and Umm al-Fahm.The initiative expanded through the founding of “Drachim Shluvot” (“Shared Paths”), a forum of four Arab and Jewish tourism entrepreneurs which Sikkuy helped initiate in teh Galilee, Wadi Ara and Central Israel.
The Abraham Fund Initiatives (TAFI)
- Media Outreach: In recent years TAFI has encouraged several mainstream media outlets in Israel to acknowledge Ramadan both as a service for the Arab community and to increase awareness among Jewish Israelis. As a result, Israel Radio Reshet Bet, YNET, and Mako are now addressing Ramadan and broadcasting fast times.
- On Campus: TAFI approached 12 colleges and universities in Israel underscoring that Ramadan falls at the same time as final papers and exams and suggested measures to relieve the added challenges this poses for Muslim students. So far most of the institutions did not respond.
Shuk Laila ("Night Market"): In Lod, JINDAS, a local urban regeneration organization, hosted a night market on June 5th to mark the beginning of Ramadan. The market drew 4000 Jews and Arabs from all across the city of Lod, the surrounding area, and from as far as the village of Rahat in Israel's Negev region.
Municipality of Rahat
- In the Negev, several government bodies, including the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of the Negev and the Galilee, and the Negev Development Authority, have partnered with the municipality of Rahat and the local Bedouin community to initiate Ramadan Nights, a website offering evening tours and Iftar meals in the city.
Arab-Jewish Iftar Dinners
- Givat Haviva is hosting an Iftar dinner for the Jewish and Arab communities in their “Shared Communities Program” on June 19
- The Arab-Jewish Community Center in Jaffa's Iftar dinner on June 29th will be attended by Tel Aviv Mayor, Ron Huldai, and religious leaders from the city
- AJEEC-NISPED and the Riyan Employment Centers are hosting an Iftar in the Negev on June 28th.
- Mifalot is hosting a Jewish-Arab Iftar on June 22nd and will include short Sufi concert, dinner, lecture about the Ramadan and a guided tour in Umm-El-Fahem
- The Civic Forum for Shared Society between B'nei Shimon and Rahat, founded by a New Dawn in the Negev and Community Stage, hosted an Iftar on June 22, which was attended by Talal Al-Kirnawi, Rahat Mayor