The Citizens' Accord Forum: Deliberative Dialogue

The Citizens' Accord Forum: Deliberative Dialogue

CAF's Deliberative Dialogue project aims to mend the growing rifts and reverse the decline in cooperation between different sectors of Israeli society while helping to resolve conflicts between them.

Societal problems in Israel are often solved by one group imposing its will on the other rather than groups in conflict working together. Most sectors of society in Israel, including Arabs, the ultra-Orthodox and the Bedouin take part in democratic elections, have representation in Knesset and in local government and, in varying degrees, enjoy the protection of their civil rights, such as freedom of expression and freedom to protest. Yet, political discourse and political processes, whether in Knesset or on the streets, are based upon the "politics of confrontation", rather than the "politics of cooperation and consensus".

CAF's Deliberative Dialogue Activities help groups in conflict address problems together by facilitating constructive engagement between them. We target representative groups within society, including a group of 40 Jewish and Arab members of Knesset, groups of ultra-Orthodox rabbis and Muslim leaders, Arab and Jewish women, community workers, academics and more.

Discussions go well beyond different groups stating their positions on any given topic. Rather, through these facilitated deliberations, participants come to understand the values driving the others' positions. They are able to see and consider what we call the "trade-offs", or the potential costs of any decisions they may make about a given issue. One of our goals is that more informed, inclusive and well-considered decisions will be made by more and more leaders and policy makers.

The in-depth deliberation resolves around issues such as: the role of education in fostering relations between Arab and Jewish citizens; gender roles in traditional (Jewish and Arab/Muslim) societies; violence among youth; the legal status of Arab Citizens of Israel; how we as a society care for our elderly and Infirm; and more.

CAF's methodology was developed in cooperation with the Kettering Foundation, a leading research institution based in Dayton, United States.
So far, over a thousand people have taken part in public events including "round-tables" and on-stage conferences. Over four hundred have participated in deliberative dialogue and civic action groups. Several radio broadcasts introduced the concepts to a broad public audience.

A groundbreaking endeavor being launched now by the Citizens’ Accord Forum is their Ultra-Orthodox-Arab Civic Action program, in which rabbis, religious and community leaders and leading men and women from these two communities engage in a joint examination of shared social concerns and work together to promote solutions to issues with which they are both grappling. This serves to develop the civic engagement of both groups, and will contribute to building a shared society that encompasses all parts of the population in Israel.

The Citizens' Accord Forum
CAF’s mission is to build a shared society in a sustainable democracy in Israel. CAF works to mend rifts between groups in conflict by building bridges, encouraging constructive engagement and promoting and empowering civil leadership. Recognizing that the conflict between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel poses one of the major obstacles to maintaining a shared society and healthy democracy, CAF’s primary focus is on building a just and equal relationship between Jews and Arabs in ...