While Israeli Bedouins and Jews have lived and interacted on the Negev Highlands since the establishment of the State of Israel, they continue to live their lives separately, each group in its community, settlements, and townships. It is therefore that regular, informal meetings between neighbors are instrumental in eliminating the barriers created by prejudice, racist perceptions and thus create new relationships and friendships, in particular among youngsters.
The Good Neighborship Project holds regular meetings and organizes joint activities and outings in which middle school students from Mitzpe Ramon and students from schools in the township of Abde. This unrecognized Bedouin township is currently in the process of recognition. The purpose of these meetings and joint outings is to stimulate mutual understanding and interaction between the youngsters. Without these efforts, these youngsters could easily continue to live one next to another, in the same area, without ever really meeting in person or having a chance to interact and discover their joint interests, goals, and ambitions.
The preservation of the desert’s nature and environment, as well as the development of sustainable local tourism projects, are excellent motivators and incentives for both communities to take an interest in how they can make this work and create a positive impact for both sides.
To facilitate this process, the “The Future in the Desert” foundation of Yeruham, set up the Good Neighborship Network. This network aims to establish and strengthen ties and relationships between the Jewish and Bedouin communities throughout the Negev. The Good Neighborship Network currently operates out of Arad, Mitzpe Ramon and the Negev Highlands, and Yeruham.
Due to Corona virus crisis and limitations, the Good Neighborship Project will begin operating in 2020, as schools get back to regular operation.
Initially financed and supported by the Levi Lassen Foundation, the project called for ten meetings during the school year.
The other supporters – and participants – are
- Abde School
- the Shalom Highschool in Mitzpe Ramon
The project is managed by Efrat Kedem-Silbert.