From the Heart of Jewish and Arab Israeli youth

Summer of 2017 brought a fresh wave of faces of youth from Israel: 10 Israeli Jews and 10 Israeli Arabs/Muslims. As Heart to Heart – the sponsors of this youth initiative – met MY Voice Canada, a lot of fun activities took place, along with some writing activities where the youth from Israel got to share their thoughts:

 

“Who Am I?”

What is your identity? How do you identify yourself?

 

Human. Nadin. Girl. Arab. Muslim. Palestinian. Lives in Israel.

-Nadin Abu Moch, 15

 

  • I’m a person, a human being
  • I want everyone to have basic human rights
  • I’m Jewish, I want to improve the image of Jews and our community and  Israel
  • Identity is myself–what I am, it is unique to me, something special to me, sometimes difficult to explain to others because it is so personal

-Asaf Nehama & Reem Atamha

 

Problems with identifying a certain way?

 

  • It’s hard to say “I’m Jewish” because everyone has their assumptions about what it means to be Jewish and what our group is like
  • The only group I truly relate to is being a human being, identifying with any other label or group is difficult
  • It’s hard to say “I”m Muslim” because of what people think about Muslims nowadays, but also because, maybe, I don’t follow what it means to be “Muslim” one hundred percent … like everyone else or like other Muslims … People practice the religion in different ways
  • We identify more with our personalities; we connect with people because of what they are like, not who they actually are. So, I connect with people who are like me, even if they don’t have the same label. Sometimes, it’s hard to live up to the label–to the group that people think you’re part of. Sometimes, I don’t even want to live up to the label.
  • Most religions in the world promote kindness
  • We shouldn’t judge others based on what people have labeled them or even what they have labeled themselves
  • We shouldn’t put people in boxes

-Asaf Nehama & Reem Atamha

 

What can we do about this?

 

  • We need to change the way people think about other groups; we need to meet, talk, be open, show people how our own minds have changed about others–this will only work in a  relaxed, open, comfortable environment (like a coffee shop)
  • Word of mouth,  although, through our actions, is best
  • We need to interact with people from other groups and who label themselves differently
  • We need more opportunities for dialogue
  • We need to start with people we already know–our family and friends
  • Also, if you’re ready to talk, you have to be ready to listen back

-Asaf Nehama & Reem Atamha

 

“The change we would like to see in the world is equality”

What would you want to see change in the world? If you were in-charge of the world, what would be better or different? What change can you create at home? How can you achieve that as an individual and as a group?

 

  • The change we would like to see in the world is equality:
  • Without sexism, racism and faithism.
  • The world needs a change because, today, we have a lot of discrimination of all kinds.
  • Discrimination brings people to bad situations and hurts them.
  • We can’t just ignore it. We need to make a change. We need to start small, from ourselves, our family and our city.
  • When we will get bigger, we will get a bigger change.
  • If we were the leaders of the world, we would work on creating a new society which gives people privacy to believe and think whatever they want, without being judged.

 

–Noa Nisankonen, Karkur, 15 and Matar Sagee, Ein Hashofet, 14

 

  • I want to see world peace;
  • Equality and stopping discrimination;
  • Supporting and making places for kids with disabilities
  • An educating system that is equal and fitted for the religion the country and more;
  • Helping associatoins with maney;
  • Supporting doctors and giving them more money;
  • Helping people when they need medicine and dont have any money to buy it.

– Urin and Noa Grundband

 

“I want to be a part of that change”

 

First of all, I am human. I am from Israel. I like to play music–the guitar–and I am someone who wants to make changes and fix my country.

 

My greatest love is Israel, but what is happening in Israel is very wrong. I am here to fix it.

 

I am proud of joining this program [Heart to Heart]. I learned that Arab children in Israel don’t have the same schools, they don’t have the same rights that everyone deserves. I was really disappointed. It is not fair that Bashar [an Arab participant in Heart to Heart], who lives 10 minutes away from me, doesn’t have all the rights that I do. In school, he only learns courses like math and physics, not arts, music and humanities. It was really hard for me. This might be a little thing, but these little things will prevent our communities from being united.

 

I am not someone from the side that says, “Someone else will do it.” I want to be a part of that change.

– Roi Mado  

 

“If two sides walk together, it will work”

 

I am a Palestinian Muslim who lives in Israel.

 

I want to be the start for change, along with my family, by attending programs like Heart to Heart, where people learn about people.

 

I want to find a solution to racism in my country.

 

For example, when applying for work, if someone Arab wants to apply and someone Jewish wants to apply, the Jewish applicant will get chosen because he works in the Israeli army. You can lose the efforts of all that you learn because of racism.

 

At the same time, I cannot do something alone. If one side walks, it is not enough. If two sides walk together, it will work.

 

For example, let’s say there is a job opening in Intel. There is an Arab applicant and a Jewish applicant who are both good at computers and both have good marks. When the Jewish applicant is selected, he should say, “No, this is unfair. Give the job to him.” But, there are not a lot of people like this. You can count them on your fingers.

– Bashar Zahalka

 

 

“No, Arabs are just like everyone else”

 

I am Arab, Palestinian, Muslim and I live in Israel.

 

I want to change racism. I want to change people’s mindset about Arabs. For example, Arabs are heavily profiled at airports. If I change the mindset of people who think, “No Arabs,” I can change the idea that, “Arabs are no good.” No, Arabs are just like everyone else.

– Asaf

 

“A peaceful revolution”

 

I am Palestinian, Arab, Muslim and currently living in Israel.

 

At home, I would like to see changes in my friends and family in how we view Jewish people, who we call “the other.”

 

I would like to change study and work opportunities and the vast differences in income. A Jewish person gets more income than an Arab person. Why is that? If they are working the same hours and same job, why aren’t they getting the same income?

 

When we go back to Israel, we have some logic to take back with us. We need to write about what we learned here in Canada, what we experienced and what we felt.

 

We cannot change the country all at once. Start with your friends, family, schools, and then you can work together. Schools can work together and make big change. A revolution. Not one that involves killing, but a peaceful revolution–asking for the rights of the Arab people and combatting Islamophobia.

– Mohammed Khalid Agbariya

 

“I am hoping the peace will come to actual existence”

 

I am Arab, Palestinian, Muslim and living in Israel.

 

I believe we can make peace and live together with Jewish people in Israel and with people all across the world. I got to believe we can live together through this program, Heart to Heart. This is the first time I got to know I can live together with Jewish people.

 

If I want to see a change in the whole world, I need to start with Israel. When we get back to Israel, we have to share two projects we heard about from Heart to Heart:

 

  1. A woman is working on creating a language that all Arabs and Jewish people can understand by building an alphabet using both Arabic and Hebrew (top half of letter in Arabic and bottom half of letter in Hebrew).
  2. A certain number of Jewish students are sent to an Arab school and the same number of Arab students are sent to a Jewish school. The students experience a day in the life of the so-called “other.” The students are encouraged to notice the differences and feel new and common experiences.

 

I am hoping the peace will come to actual existence–starting with small steps, making it true, with peace radiating through the whole country.

– Mohammed (Abu Samir)

About The Author

MY Voice is a Muslim Youth magazine written and published exclusively by students across the GTA. It’s an initiative solely started to give our youth community a chance to stand up and shine! The magazine is all about bringing the Muslim youth together, while raising confidence as the new generation of Canadian Muslims who take pride in their national spirit, while being firmly rooted in their culture and beliefs.

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