Dispatch: Standing With Israelis During Troubled Times

As Israelis continue to face increasing terror attacks, Prof. Yossi Tamir, JDC's Israel Regional Director, sent the following dispatch on JDC's role in addressing the tensions and fears among Israelis at this time of uncertainty and violence: 'Israel is yet again going through a difficult time.

October 14, 2015

As Israelis continue to face increasing terror attacks, Prof. Yossi Tamir, JDC’s Israel Regional Director, sent the following dispatch on JDC’s role in addressing the tensions and fears among Israelis at this time of uncertainty and violence:

‘Israel is yet again going through a difficult time.

There is a lot of fear and uncertainty on both the personal level and the national level — everything from ‘Where are my children right now?’ and ‘Should I tell them not to ride the bus?’ to ‘How long will this go on?’ and ‘How do we deal with this situation?’ And of course, ‘How do we put an end to it?’It is this uncertainty that makes it particularly hard for people to be hopeful.

Here at JDC Israel, we are following the current situation closely and our team is ready to act whenever and wherever we are needed. At the same time, our employees are experiencing much tension and anxiety. Many are worried about their families.

I would like to share two events that occurred these past few days that highlight these anxieties but at the same time, also show why I believe there is still reason to be hopeful. Events like these make me proud to be both an Israeli and a ‘Jointnik.’

Earlier this week, Tevet, our employment initiative, held a retreat for its 115 program managers in the field, a third of whom work in the Israeli Arab sector. The day before the retreat we learned the Arab managers were afraid to come. Several of the Arab women who wear veils were afraid to travel by train, fearing confrontations or attacks; others felt uncomfortable facing their Jewish colleagues.

Tevet management urged all employees to attend the day, and despite their initial misgivings, almost everyone came.

Tevet Director Sigal Shelach used the opportunity to express the appreciation and respect JDC has for its workers, who tirelessly work in the face of complex realities.

‘Your work gives us hope,’ she said. ‘Today, the workplace is one of the few places where all the different strata of Israeli society meet and interact. In this way, JDC-Israel has created a special asset for Israeli society which, if used wisely, can turn the workforce into a catalyst for inclusion and shared society. This, in fact, lies at the core of JDC and Tevet’s mission.’

Additional hopeful signs came from our government partners.

Yesterday, the Mayor’s Forum operated by the JDC Institute for Leadership and Governance, convened a special meeting.

Forty-five Jewish and Arab mayors from the North and South of Israel met to spur dialogue between all sides and discuss matters calmly to find a path forward. During the meeting, tensions and concerns were candidly shared, and there was even room for some healthy humor. Together they confirmed their commitment to form a bridge of peace in these difficult times.

Meetings such as these should not be taken for granted.

‘We have injured and dead people, and most Arabs don’t want to see Jews and most Jews don’t want to see Arabs,’ MK Zohir Bahalul said. ‘That is why this coming together of Jewish and Arab mayors is an important sign of leadership for the social texture of this country.’

The exceptional ability of JDC Israel to bring together a multitude of different convictions, even in hard times like these, proves once again the unique and uniting role we have in Israeli society.We are in constant touch with our partners and workers in the field and will continue to monitor the situation closely. We join you all in wishing for more peaceful times ahead.’

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