Monthly Archives: October 2016

System-wide Cultural Competency Training for Israel Police

It might just be our largest – and most wide-ranging – project in Cultural Competency to date. This September, we, together with Mosaica – The Center for Conflict Resolution by Agreement, were tasked – by the Police Force Education Unit, under directive from the Minister of Internal Security and the national Police Commissioner, (!) – with providing 200 cultural competency training  workshops in five out of the seven police regions throughout Israel. When finished, the project will reach most of the tens of thousands of police officers and commanders throughout the country. This process began at the beginning of September and will run through December.

Police in training course

Police in training course

The directive is a direct result of our ongoing work with the police force and its Education Unit, which began last year.  You can read about this previous work with the Israel Police Force, with both officers and trainees, at the National Police Academy and at different police stations, here and here. Indeed, the Israel police force realizes that having culturally competent and culturally sensitive officers can improve their professionalism and their ability to resolve incidents more quickly, more effectively, and hopefully, with less violence.

But this training marathon was on an entirely different scale. Our first step was to hold a 3-day ‘train the trainers’ workshop for the 30 professional facilitators, social workers, community mediators, and more. Their job has been to facilitate the training seminars in police stations throughout the country.

In our work we’ve found that there is already a massive amount of knowledge and awareness of cultural competence and sensitivity – both intuitive and learned – across the different layers, different branches and different locations of the police. One of the main goals of our work with the police is to utilize the knowledge and experience that already exists and teach it in a structured way so that it can become even more widespread, standard practice throughout the 35,000-strong police force.

Much of the 5-hour introductory training taught through case studies. Here is one, from northern Jerusalem:

During the Muslim month of Ramadan, border police noticed a marked increase in violent behavior by Palestinians going through the checkpoints. This was unusual, since Ramadan is a happy time, and even charged places such as a police checkpoint are usually affected (positively) by the month-long holiday. In response, officers from the border police held a meeting with local Muslim leaders, to try and get to the bottom of the problem. The leaders noted that this year, the border police were using police dogs as part of their routine checks, and that there was a special sensitivity to these dogs, especially since the people were hurrying to the Mosque. The border police stopped using the dogs, and the situation was much calmer at the checkpoints.

At other times, case studies are used to spark discussion:

A man of Ethiopian descent calls the police hotline, “Help! Someone left a sunny-side-up egg outside my door!” (This means he’s been threatened with murder.) What do you do? How do you respond?

An ultra-Orthodox woman calls the police hotline, complaining of domestic violence. The patrol that is closest includes a female officer, who is supposed to confront the ultra-Orthodox man. How should this be handled most effectively?

Each station focused on a particular population group, often one with which they have specific contact. Thus, for example, one station in the Jerusalem city center chose to focus on the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish population. Another, in northern Jerusalem, focused on the Palestinian population. (We’d worked with them before, and then they’d undergone a special workshop on the Ethiopian-Israeli population, since there is a large concentration there.) A station in Natanya focused on French-speakers.

Learning the principles of cultural competency

Learning the principles of cultural competency

In addition to the standard workshop content we also invited expert lecturers to provide a more in-depth understanding. For example, in Natanya the director of the Elem organization, himself a native French-speaker, was brought in to speak about the Francophone youth in the city, their approaches toward the police, and ideas of how to improve connections with the police in order to improve the public order.

We understand the challenge of integrating these principles into the everyday work of tens of thousands of police officers who face a myriad of complex situations every day. But we’re excited to be part of the process.

MiniActive Youth for the Environment – Mixing Art and Paper Recycling

Our MiniActive Youth for the Environment are becoming experts in turning everyday materials, outdoors as well as in, and making them beautiful. We’ve described here and here their outdoor painting projects at local schools and on garbage receptacles.

Paper recycling art work

Paper recycling art work

Last week, they also experimented in making artwork by recycling paper.

Creating different designs

Creating different designs

At the workshop that took place at the Abna al-Quds Community Center in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, they first ripped up old newspapers.

First steps of preparing the paper

First steps of preparing the paper

Then they made the paper into a paste

Now it's starting to get gooey

Now it’s starting to get gooey

And then began forming it into creatures.

Looking super

Looking super

Here’s the post in Arabic from the MiniActive Facebook page:

Record-breaking Numbers as Arabic Courses Open

Before you learn another language, it often sounds like this:


However, Arabic is an official language of Israel, and the fact that relatively few Jewish Israelis are able to communicate in Arabic creates gaps in understanding and communication, right from the get-go. Since we believe that learning the language of the ‘other’ enables one to gain insight and understanding of his or her culture, we at the JICC have been operating Arabic-language courses for over 10 years. They are indeed, one of our longest-running programs. We continue to be the largest Arabic school in Jerusalem, and maybe the largest in Israel.

Studying Arabic

Studying Arabic

On September 1 we started up the Arabic classes once again, with our veteran teachers Anwar and Suha, and our newer addition, Gali. This year we had another record-breaking year – 16 classes over 5 levels – some 240 people registered!  That is definitely a new high.

And here’s where studying Arabic with us can take you. As we were gearing up for the year our long-time teachers Anwar and Suha were in contact with some of their veteran students. Anwar called one of his students, Anat, who had been in his class from level 1 through level 4, but who hadn’t signed up for level 5 this year. “Anwar,” she said, “Because of the Arabic I studied with you at the JICC, I’m in Greece for the year, helping Syrian refugees. I’m actually able to communicate with them, and help them. Thank you for opening up this opportunity.”

Anat, we’re so happy you’re able to put your Arabic to good use.

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for their continued support of this program.

On Our Way to Making the Entire Jerusalem Municipality Culturally Competent

If making Jerusalem a culturally competent city is to continue to be one of our main goals, then making the Municipality Culturally Competent is one of our major tasks. The task is huge – there are dozens of municipal departments and thousands – if not tens of thousands – of municipal workers.

Slowly but surely, we’re working our way through. In the summer we began in-depth processes with the Community Services Administration, one of the Municipality’s main arms. You can read more about it here.  We’ve also begun working with the Comptroller’s office.

Learning about Mt. Zion from a Window to Mt. Zion perspective

Learning about Mt. Zion from a Window to Mt. Zion perspective

Last week, on October 6, staff from the Comptroller’s office had an intensive learning experience in cultural competency, with Mount Zion as a case study. They first had a tour of Mount Zion by Merav, coordinator of our Window to Mount Zion project, with an emphasis on some of the many stories of cultural competence that the project has facilitated over the past year, from enabling Christian pilgrims to enter David’s Tomb for a short time during the Orthodox Christian Pentacost (in years past this has caused violent reactions by Jewish devotees), to sharing the Mount on the during the weekend when the Jewish holiday of Purim and the Catholic and Protestant celebration of Easter. (You can read more about the Window to Mount Zion project here and here, and about Purim / Easter here.)

After learning about the uniqueness of Mount Zion and the Window to Mount Zion project, we presented the Comptroller’s office staff with a general overview of the principles of cultural competency at our home on Mount Zion. This began the discussion on how to integrate these principles into the everyday work of the Comptroller’s office.

They told us how excited they were to see these areas in person. They’d dealt with a lot of issues on Mt. Zion, but had never had the introduction and explanations that we gave them. They were happy to get that different perspective.

We’ll keep you posted on future developments.

0202 – a Haredi Viewpoint – Launches

The largest population of Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) Jews in Israel lives in Jerusalem. Yet, ask any non-orthodox Jerusalem resident about burning issues in the Haredi community, and they will only be able to tell you about them from what they hear from the mainstream, secular media.

0202, a project begun in March 2015, aims to provide all Jerusalem populations with a window into the ‘other’s perspective, from their perspective. 0202 began translating news items from the Palestinian viewpoint. The Hebrew and English pages can be seen here and here. Today they have over 50,000 ‘likes’ combined and reach over 100,000 people weekly. As part of the 0202 philosophy, 0202 – A View from Haredi Jerusalem, began in September 2016. Many of its 2,300 ‘likes’ were received in its first two days on line; today the page reaches 10,000 weekly. Like its sister pages, 0202 – A View from Haredi Jerusalem reaches key stakeholders regularly: journalists, municipality figures, activists, journalists, Israelis and Palestinians, in and beyond Jerusalem.

0202 - A View from Haredi Jerusalem

0202 – A View from Haredi Jerusalem

Unlike its sister pages, 0202 – A View from Haredi Jerusalem does not need to translate. (0202-A View from East Jerusalem translates items from Arabic to Hebrew or English.) However, it does bridge a vast cultural divide between the ‘general’ (secular and modern orthodox) Jewish population and the Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) population of the city.

First, it breaks a few stereotypes of how information is transferred. Many believe the main avenue is through pahskevilim and print media.

Reading pashkevilim

Reading pashkevilim

While this practice still continues, today there are a number of web sites and Facebook pages that serve the Haredi community of today. Here are some examples of interesting posts over the past month.

Here is a recent post dealing with discrimination of girls from a non-Ashkenazi origin:

The Haredi press dealt with this issue at length at the beginning of the school year as well:

This issue has been a recurring problem at the beginning of the school year for several years. Click here for an article from the secular Ynet news on the subject, from a few years ago.

Two different perspectives of a cultural event – which featured women singing – that was disrupted by members of the Haredi population. The post reads, “Dozens of activists break into a missionary conference in Jerusalem.”:

And here’s the way the organizers presented it:

Event with Armenian choir

Event with Armenian choir

And the Times of Israel (secular) coverage of the event.

And here is what others are saying about the page:

From the excellent people at 0202-A View from East Jerusalem, introducing the next project: “A View from Haredi Jerusalem.” They continue to bring items from the Haredi world from outside our Facebook sound box. Here, there might not be a language barrier, but how many of us seriously follow the Haredi media? I promise that it’s fascinating. Congratulations to Michal Shilor, Hagai Agmon-Snir and everyone else working on the project…P.S. Waiting for the completion of the set, “View from West Jerusalem” in Arabic.

Here’s the post in Hebrew:

Welcome to the world, 0202-A View from Haredi Jerusalem. May your posts and the discussions they raise serve to increase understanding among the populations of Jerusalem.

Our Cultural Competency Training for Police Makes Walla! News Site

Did you hear about the time when the police came into an tempestuous situation involving Ethiopians/Haredim/Arabs, and they succeeded in calming the waters, without incident and without anyone getting hurt?

Not usually your top headline. However, that is what we, together with the Israel Police Force, are striving for. We’ve been working with the Police over the past year to instill principles of cultural competency into the everyday training. You can read about this work with both officers and trainees, at the National Police Academy and at different police stations, here and here.

Recently, this ongoing training was covered by Walla! news in Hebrew, a major Internet news site in Israel. Click here to for the link to the entire article and accompanying video in Hebrew.  Click here to view a PDF version of the article.

Walla article

Walla article

How will this training affect police officers’ responses to everyday incidents? David Shoshan, one of the officers in the training course, noted in the video above, that:

The training basically opened my eyes to the different populations we serve. That, when we’re called to an incident, I might need to act a little differently, try to respect the people’s particular customs. Our main goal is to try to ensure that the incident is over as quickly as possible, that it’s been dealt with in the most professional manner as possible, in the calmest way possible, so that we can do our jobs as best as possible.

Thanks David. Let’s hope the other tens of thousands of police officers throughout Israel were paying attention as well.

MiniActive Youth – Leaving their Mark on East Jerusalem

Our MiniActive Youth continued to leave their mark on East Jerusalem, in only the best of ways. This past week they finished several new decorating projects in the Wadi Joz neighborhood.

Where is that path leading to?

Where is that path leading to?

They painted part of a wall

One of several undergoing a facelift

One of several undergoing a facelift

As well as a number of garbage receptacles.

And yet another one

And yet another one

It’s never been so fun to take out the trash!

And yet another

And yet another

Many continued thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for their ongoing support of this project.

They didn't paint only garbage receptacles

They didn’t paint only garbage receptacles

Here’s the original  Facebook post in Arabic:


Dreaming the Future of Jerusalem – A Panel of Experts

How does a day in future, tolerant, open Jerusalem look?

According to Yair, in his dreams (which, he claims, will come true in about 2-3 years), Jerusalemites will speak to each other in the ‘other’s’ language. An East Jerusalemite Arab woman will meet a West Jerusalemite Jewish man, she will speak in Hebrew and he in Arabic. Jerusalemites find ways to meet in the middle and communicate with one another.

Shmuel Drilman, another participant, said:

I explained the difference between a melting pot philosophy and a multicultural philosophy that encourages mutual tolerance and respect for others’ world view. It is difficult for me to respect ‘values of tolerance’ that call for wars against Haredim living in Kiryat Hayovel, events adapted to the religious community, or even the sale of materials that call people to ‘return to the fold’ in local supermarkets. I believe that this is not multi-culturalism, it is culture war. On the other hand, it is difficult to deny that the challenge for the Haredi population in establishing a multi-cultural space as required for life in the 21st century is greater – are we really able to come to terms with secular people living in Haredi neighborhoods? Civil marriages? Breaking of the Sabbath with our tax money? Somehow I was left with the feeling that the challenge of Tolerant Jerusalem is far from being overcome.

Yair and Shmuel were part of a panel entitled, “Jerusalem – Tolerant City” that we organized, together with the Ahuzat Beit Hakerem sheltered housing residence. Some 300 residents listened intently and asked panelists difficult questions.

Panel members pose for a group picture

Panel members pose for a group picture

Moderated by our own director, Dr. Hagai Agmon-Snir, panelists included:

Here’s the Facebook post in Hebrew on the Jerusalem Tolerance Facebook page, about the entire panel:

Here’s what Shmuel had to say about the panel in his Hebrew Facebook post:

2016-10-22T09:51:57+00:00 October 5th, 2016|Blog, Identity Groups and Conflicts, Promoting Tolerance in Jerusalem|