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SA Organisations

WIZO SA's role in Ironi Cariera

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Xenophobia is not an easy concept to acknowledge, especially when it happens in your own country and when it serves as a stark reminder of what happened to the Jewish people in the dark days of the 1930s and 1940s Europe.
by OWN CORRESPONDENT | Apr 22, 2015

Smashing of windows, looting of wares, rounding up of the “Other”, inflicting injury and even death on people because of deep-seated prejudice and resentment, is difficult to comprehend in 2015.

The attacks here coincided with the commemoration of Yom Hashoah… a sobering thought that history is doomed to repeat itself somewhere in the world, seemingly in each decade.

WIZO Israel, in an effort to break down racial stereotypes and find a simple commonality among women, initiated the Olive Tree project. Forty women - Jewish, Arab, Druze and Circassian - took part in this special Olive Tree art exhibition.

The exhibit reflects the coming together of women from diverse backgrounds who spent hours painting together as well as travelling around the country to study olive trees in one another’s neighbourhood.

The choice of the olive tree as the subject of the exhibit, an important cultural symbol for both Jews and Arabs, represents both groups’ connection to the land. The artists have formed close relationships and understanding of each other’s culture and religion through their art.

The exhibit, first shown in France, has garnered international attention and as a result will be hosted by several European WIZO federations in the coming year.

What a success story The Olive Tree project has been as it continues to shed rays of hope and accord… so much so, that a new group of both men and women is slated to start a project painting local landscapes. The idea is for whole families to mix together, go outside and paint.

In that vein, WIZO South Africa sponsors youngsters at Ironi Cariera, who, although they come from different nationalities and religions, come together in a caring environment to learn.

They are encouraged to become focused achievers in their chosen careers and become proud and self-sufficient members of Israeli society. 

These young people have a number of things in common: They all come from disadvantaged and sometimes traumatic backgrounds and they do not fit into the regular school system.

They respond to encouragement and help which they receive from lecturers, counsellors and therapists. To see young Jewish and Arab students in class with refugees from the Sudan, all honing their skills in the various courses on offer, is to see a microcosm of how peoples and nations should interact.

We are very proud of the interfaith activities of WIZO Israel and no less proud of the part WIZO South Africa plays in Ironi Cariera.

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