U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv

During Ambassador Shapiro's full day trip to Beersheva, he visited HAGAR,  Jewish-Arab Education for Equality, a bilingual, multicultural school. As parents and community members partner in the educational process, HAGAR creates a community of Arabs and Jews who learn and work together towards a shared and peaceful future. Ambassador Shapiro met with Hagar's team Ms. Hagit Damri Executive Director, Ms. Smadar Peretz School's principal, Dr. Akiva Leibowitz Attorney Afnan Abu Taha members of the board, and learned about Hagar's activities and the school's unique pedagogical program including Embassy funded "Excelling Towards Peace" project.

Speaking Each Other's Language

Against the recent backdrop of violence in Israel and Gaza, one primary school in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba is attempting real coexistence between Arabs and Jews.

The Hagar school isn’t aiming to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or to achieve peace in the Middle East. The parents and teachers involved simply want to bring cooperation and understanding to their local community, all while providing a quality education for their children. And it’s more than just talk: Hagar boasts some of the highest test scores in the Negev.

School of Hard Knocks

It's a Sunday morning at Beersheba’s Hagar School, and the second-grade children are actively engaged in a math lesson. They sit around small clusters of tables and work in pairs or seek out the help of the teacher for the task at hand.

While the class of around 25 pupils looks pretty much like any other of its kind countrywide, what sets this group of children apart and makes this school unique, especially in the South, is that half of the children are Arab residents of Beersheba and half are Jews, even though it’s almost impossible to tell who is who.