The Abraham Fund Initiatives
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The Abraham Fund Initiatives is a non-profit organization based in Jerusalem, New York City and London. Named for the common ancestor of both Jews and Arabs, it is dedicated to advancing coexistence, equality and cooperation between Israel's Jewish and Arab citizens. According to its mission statement, "The Abraham Fund works toward a prosperous, secure and just society by promoting policies based on innovative social models, conducting large-scale initiatives, advocacy and public education."
Founded in 1989 by the late Alan B. Slifka and the late Dr. Eugene Weiner, the Abraham Fund was one of the first nonprofit organizations dedicated to furthering coexistence between Israel's Arab and Jewish citizens.
Ami Nahshon served as The Abraham Fund's International President and CEO from 2003 through 2014. Amnon Be'eri-Sulitzeanu and Dr. Thabet Abu Rass serves as the organization's global Co-Executive Directors, based in Israel. Mohammad Darawshe served as co-executive Director between 2005-2013. Some of the notable people who serve on the Abraham Fund-Israel Executive Committee are Orni Petruschka, Dr. Mohammed Alnabari, Natalie Barkan, Orna Lin, and Doron Shohat
Currently, The Abraham Fund's major program initiatives include the following:
- Language as a Cultural Bridge seeks to mandate the teaching of Arabic language and culture for all Jewish students in Israel’s public schools, from the elementary grades through high school. Simultaneously, the initiative is upgrading Hebrew language and culture learning in Arab schools. Already in 220 schools across the country, the program is supported by the US government, Israel’s Ministry of Education and local municipalities.
- Policing in a Divided Society works to improve relations between the Israel Police and Arab society by enhancing the scope and quality of services provided to Israel's Arab citizens, and by equipping the Police with the multicultural skills and awareness required to serve a diverse society.
- Sharikat Haya/The Arab Women’s Employment Initiative combats poverty in the Arab sector, promotes Israel’s economic growth and strengthens the status of Arab women in their communities.
- Public Education, Advocacy and Government Relations deepens policy makers’ familiarity with Arab society, and raises awareness that Jewish-Arab equality and social inclusion are critical to Israel’s future. The Abraham Fund works with opinion leaders within government, the media and the private sector to advocate for a shared society of equal opportunity and access for all Israelis.
- Jewish-Arab Inter-Municipal Cooperation: Mirkam in the Galilee aims to develop the Central Galilee as a national model for shared living. The initiative brings together Jewish and Arab municipal leaders to work on shared needs in the areas of environment, regional development, education and health, while designing policies that can be replicated in mixed regions throughout Israel.
- Education for a Shared Society is advanced through The Abraham Fund’s bilingual Hebrew-Arabic online resource center to reinforce and support the work of civics and coexistence educators in Jewish and Arab schools. The interactive resource center provides program tools, teaching materials and extensive information in the areas of democracy and education for shared citizenship.
The Abraham Fund Initiatives has implemented a number of stand-alone campaigns aimed at fostering greater tolerance in Israeli society between the Arab and Jewish populations and responding to key issues as they arise. Examples of these include:
- Yom Kippur-Eid al-Adha Tolerance Campaign
In 2014 and 2015 the major Jewish and Islamic Holy Days of Yom Kippur and Eid al-Adha coincided. This concurrence happens rarely, approximately every 33 years, and in Israel has the potential to spark unrest as a result of the very different traditions associated with these religious days. Yom Kippur is a somber day of fasting and introspection and Eid al-Adha is a joyous celebration. Furthermore, in Israel, the Jewish population is overwhelming unaware of the Muslim customs and could misintepret the celebrations as provocations. The Abraham Fund worked to raise awareness to this concurrence and foster a sense of tolerance and positivity around the shared day. This was done through various actions: 2014 - a large conference which hosted both Chief Rabbis of Israel and major Muslim leaders  and a series of newspaper adverts in the Hebrew and Arabic media. 2015 - Joining forces with the Israeli collage artist Hanoch Piven, The Abraham Fund created a short animated clip which was screened on Israeli TV channels and reached virality on social media. The animation was narrated in both Arabic and Hebrew by well-known Israeli celebrities Mira Awad (who also sits on the Board of Directors of the Abraham Fund) and Alon Neuman.
- "Alan Slifka, philanthropist, coexistence advocate, dies". BrandeisNOW. Retrieved 10 February 2011.