Haifa Stories Festival Brings City’s Jews and Arabs Together

At a time of rising tensions, more than 1,000 Arabs and Jews showed they could live, work, play, celebrate each other’s cultures – and deal with difficult memories — together at the recent Haifa Stories Festival produced by SHATIL and Bet Hagefen.

In one event, Arabs and Jews read aloud stories about the city’s present and past, including last summer’s difficult events, in the courtyard of the NIF grantee Mossawa. Another evening was devoted to the stories of Ethiopian-Israeli contract workers who spoke about their experiences as “invisible women.” Many others participated in city walks which explored unknown corners of the city, with one of the tours ending in a liturgical concert in one of the city’s churches. There were poetry readings, art exhibits, evenings dedicated to Haifa writers and artists and tours of cultural sites and treasures in this mixed city.

“We are making an important contribution to the cultural life of the city with the variety of voices, communities and stories the Festival brings,” said Rolly Rosen, coordinator of SHATIL’s Haifa Shared City project. “And we are also contributing to the city’s memory when we see the Haifa Museum cautiously breaking the silence about the events of 1948, during which half of the city’s population left and their homes, like the entire Old City, were razed to the ground.”

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