This article originally appeared in Hebrew on YNET, 15.5.19
The TakeASec venture (take a second, in slang), the result of a collaboration between the Hannaton Mechina and the Tag Meir organization, is being held throughout the north this week, with the aim of promoting a culture of discussion and discourse that is tolerant and devoid of violence and inciteful language, both on the internet and on the street. The first activity – a social cafe – took place earlier this week at the public park, Mothers Park, in Haifa.
“During our studies, we focused a lot on Israeli society, exploring political and social issues, visiting the entire country and getting to know different populations. In the end, we discovered that bringing people closer is a burning issue for us, and for many Israelis we met,” said Halleli Bushari, of the Hannaton Mechina participants. “We feel that open discourse, good deeds, openness and listening can really bring about change and help connect people. We’ve seen this for ourselves during this year and we expect these messages to spread throughout the country.”
Students in the Hannaton Mechina say that on the one hand, they feel the rift in Israeli society, between religious and secular, between the right and the political left, and between Arabs and Jews, and on the other, they can see tremendous unity amongst people when they can find a common goal. “We believe in the end that we all have common goals and we all have a desire for things to be good. Instead of dealing with the differences and deepening the rift, we want to find the connection, what “unites” us, and the shared love we have for this country,” said another mechina participant, Gal Fabian.
Itai Capasoto, Director of the Mechina, added that during the school year, the students became more knowledgeable about the socio-political world and were bothered that the discourse was so aggressive and partisan, from politicians and social network users alike. “It bothered them, because they had completely opposite experiences in the Mechina – a Saturday spent getting to know ultra-Orthodox families, volunteering in a variety of places in Arab society in the Galilee and more.
These are experiences where the barriers were removed and prejudice was proven wrong. The feedback we received from our students was: ‘How cannot be that not everyone in Israel sees that it is possible?’ All along, they said that the social divisions in the country would be greatly improved if the different groups (tribes, as the term was used by President Reuben (Ruby) Rivlin) lived together”.
Projects about Doing Good
Among the projects taking place this week: A “social cafe” in which a coffee shop will be set up which welcomes people to come and talk about diverse issues in our society.
“Do-Gooders”: a venture involving Mechina students walking around the streets, helping people and businesses, and doing “good deeds” while creating a discourse, explaining the project, and distributing flyers and stickers.
“Drawing love”: street stalls where passersby can draw love, all together, on one drawing block.
“Audio posts” where individuals can hear talkbacks and statements written on the internet or said about (general) figures in Israeli society (ultra-Orthodox/Arab/leftist/right-wing) in order to encourage people to identify with one another and thereby change social discourse generally and on the internet.
“Singing Love,” will take place tomorrow (Thursday) at 6:30 PM, at Hannaton, and will be open to the general public with the goal of helping people connect through group singing on the topics of unconditional love, and spreading goodness and joy.
“Wall to Wall”, an artistic performance that includes talkbacks and statements about general figures in Israeli society. The talkbacks will be read aloud. The goal is to create discomfort in order to spread the message that the social network is a public space and what is not said on the street should not be said on the internet.
In addition, there will be a joint “Iftar” (break fast during the month of Ramadan) for the residents of Hannaton and Bir el Maksur, a joint celebration of holidays which are not shared, in order to bring people together and help them get to know one another so they can rejoice and celebrate together.