“Mediniati” Project: Uniting Efforts to Strengthen the Resilience of Arabs in Mixed Coastal Cities Amidst the Aftermath of War

In the wake of the recent war on Gaza and escalating tensions with the Jewish majority, the partner organizations in the “Mediniati” emergency project in the five mixed coastal cities – Jaffa, Lod, Ramla, Haifa, and Acre – intensified their activities during March 2024 to support the Arab community in facing the challenges arising from the conflict.

The Social Development Committee, a key partner in the “Mediniati” project, has been at the forefront of these efforts, particularly in the city of Haifa. The committee continued its organizational consultancy process to strengthen the “Keeping Haifa Shared” coalition, which includes Arab and Jewish institutions working together to combat incitement, arrests, and coordinate with the municipality to serve the Arab community. This ongoing process saw the coalition hold an expanded meeting in February, with 50 out of 90 members participating, aiming to activate members and increase their motivation for work and continuity. Additionally, the Social Development Committee is an active member of the “Emergency Coalition” operating at the Haifa and general Arab community levels, as well as participating in meetings of Arab civil society organizations active in the field of emergency response.

In this context, the partner organizations held several educational and awareness-raising meetings and activities, most notably the second face-to-face meeting with psychological consultant Mustafa Shalaata in the five cities, entitled “Psychological Resilience and the Ability to Act in the Routine of War – Activity Derived from Crisis.” The meeting aimed to restore energies for action during wars and crises and to develop a vision for launching change initiatives amidst difficult circumstances.

The “Mediniati” group also organized two meetings via Zoom about financial management in times of emergency, with the participation of expert Nardine Khouri Armali, to help Arab families cope with the economic pressures resulting from the war. The first meeting, organized by the “Hirakuna” group in Lod, was attended by about 30 people, while the second meeting, hosted by the “5000 Group” in Acre, included approximately 32 participants, mainly youth and students suffering from financial burdens due to the war.

In terms of youth empowerment, “Hirakuna” in Lod launched the “Beach Impact” program to build young leadership from Jaffa, Lod, Ramla, and Haifa, enabling them to influence society and participate in processes of social change. The group also prepared a position paper on the reality of the developmental needs of the Arab community in historical cities, prepared by Dr. Orwa Switat, reviewing gaps, needs, and recommendations for empowering and developing these communities, to be published in May.

The “Mediniati” coalition also participated in two meetings held by the “Nes Ammim” organization in Acre for Arab and Jewish activists and guides working in the field of dialogue and partnership, amidst the war on Gaza and the security crackdown against Palestinians in Israel. The first meeting focused on providing a safe space for expressing thoughts and feelings, while the second explored tools activists can use to achieve their goals and continue their activities in an environment filled with challenges and pressures.

In preparation for the municipal elections held in February 2024, after being postponed from October 2023 due to the outbreak of war, the “Mediniati” institutions in the five cities continued their efforts to encourage Arab participation in this event, despite fears of a decline in turnout amidst the frustration and despair left by the war. In Jaffa, Lod, Ramla, Haifa, and Acre, these institutions organized a series of dialogue meetings and seminars with local activists and leaders, highlighting the importance of the Arab voter’s voice and its pivotal role in determining the fate of their community. They also emphasized the need for solidarity, uniting ranks, and pressuring the Arab street to vote, considering that fair Arab representation at the level of local decision-making has become a national necessity.

The “Mediniati” institutions also worked on organizing field awareness campaigns, including tours in Arab neighborhoods and home visits to families, aiming to raise spirits, break the barrier of fear and despair, and restore self-confidence and belief in the value of political participation. On the media front, these institutions launched a campaign on social media platforms under the hashtag #YourVoteIsATrust, featuring video clips and posts by local dignitaries urging the Arab public to turn out heavily on election day. This was accompanied by meetings with representatives of Arab parties and political forces, calling for the primacy of unity and the higher interest, and developing new working methods and a discourse that transcends traditional slogans and aligns with the specificity and challenges of the current stage.

Despite the tense atmosphere and the enormous challenges facing the Arab community in mixed cities due to the war and its repercussions, those in charge of the “Mediniati” project affirm that unified action, solidarity, and initiative are the only way for this community to enhance its resilience and continue its struggle for its rights, interests, and future. Hence, the importance of continuing the strenuous efforts made by the project and its partner institutions in the face of all difficulties.

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