On 29 February 2016, the Conservative Muslim Forum for the first time held an event jointly with Conservative Friends of Israel. The purpose was to showcase the work of an Israeli NGO, Merchavim, and the Parliamentary host and event chairman was Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East.
Merchavim is an organisation that works to build shared citizenship in Israel. We co-organised this event to enable MPs and other citizens to learn more about the complexities of Israeli society. As Merchavim themselves say:
“Israel’s 8 million citizens face exceptional society-building challenges, among them; great diversity, deep disagreements, low social cohesion, a still short democratic history.”
Many people forget that about 20% of Israel’s citizens are Muslims whose full integration into Israeli society is important both for their own well-being and for Israel as a whole.
There were three speakers from Merchavim, introduced by British Friends of Merchavim Chair Errol Rudnick:
- Abeer Halabi was born and resides with her husband and two adult children in the Druze Arab village of Daliyat al Carmel, Mount Carmel, near the city of Haifa. She holds a Master’s degree in Social Work and has extensive experience leading diverse groups of women and conflict resolution groups. Additionally she is a member of the 2014 cohort of The Mastery Foundation community empowerment course for international leaders. Abeer is a Merchavim group facilitator.
- Roi Maor holds a Master’s degree in History from the Tel Aviv University. In the past he has held roles in senior management, resource development and financial management for a number of leading Israeli human rights organizations. Roi holds the dual role of Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Executive Director at Merchavim. Roi is married to Maya Maor, PhD, and the couple resides in Tel Aviv.
- Ruth Madar was born in Tel Aviv and makes her home with her husband and six children in the settlement of ‘Hemdat’ in the Jordan Valley. Ruth has a BA in Educational Counselling and Bible Studies and is a graduate of the Jeanie Schottenstien Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women – Nishmat. She holds a Master’s degree in Therapy and Movement and works as an educational counsellor, group facilitator and Education Coordinator at Merchavim.
After the speakers had presented the work that Merchavim is doing, there was an extended question and answer session, chaired by Bob Blackman MP.
Pictured below, from the left, are Abeer Halabi, Roi Maor, Ruth Madar and Bob Blackman MP.