In 2016, a group of eight friends in Geneva, hailing from diverse origins (including Swiss, Canadian, Indian, Iranian, Israeli and Palestinian) and from different religions (among them Jewish, Christian and Muslim) decided to found B8 of Hope.
B8 is to be pronounced Beit/Bait, as in “home” in both Arabic and Hebrew. And 8 is a hint to the number of the co-founders. They were all inspired by Ali Abu Awwad, a non-violence activist who told them:
“People abroad should stop being pro-Israel or pro-Palestine. They are not helping by adding more fuel to the conflict. If you really want to help us, support Israeli and Palestinian peace-builders on the ground and be pro a peaceful solution”.
OUR VISION: To pave a path for a just and peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians
So far political initiatives and peace processes have failed in resolving the long-lasting and most polarizing conflicts of our times. Today, the hope for a peaceful and sustainable Israeli-Palestinian coexistence lies in the work of grassroots and civil society initiatives. People to people connections and transformations will foster positive changes in the Israeli and Palestinian societies.
Hatred, fear, mistrust, stereotypes and victimhood must give way to a change in behavior. Israelis and Palestinians must acknowledge each others’ narratives and respect each others’ rights. Only then can they reject violence and live in peace with themselves and with each other by moving forward and building a better future for all.
Hundreds of Israeli and Palestinian civil society and grassroots initiatives on the ground bridge internal and cross-border divides. They create positive changes and bring hope. They need our support to scale up their impact.
OUR MISSION: To support Israeli and Palestinian grassroots and civil society initiatives that are a game changer for a better future
Among the many barriers to peace between Israelis and Palestinians, we focus on four main obstacles to a positive change:
- Internal divides and challenges inside each community
Israelis do not form a monolithic bloc, nor do the Palestinians. There are many political, ethnic and social divides “inside each side”. To bridge these gaps, we support initiatives that unite rather than polarize, initiatives that enable people to find a common ground and shared values to make a difference, initiatives that encourage people to accept the necessity of a peaceful solution. Unity and inclusiveness are key words. Positive transformations happen with inclusion – not exclusion!
- Cross-border divides between Israelis and Palestinians
Despite their close proximity to one another, Israelis and Palestinians live in almost complete separation. Both sides have little knowledge of each other’s lives and too often are raised to fear and hate each other. It is essential to encourage dialogue and bridge-building activities in a place where joint meetings and get-togethers are difficult and dangerous. The impossible becomes achievable when you listen to the “other”, when you hear their narratives and perspectives and share bread together. Their humanity becomes visible, and your shared dreams of a better future for your children become a powerful, uniting force.
- Lack of synergies among the peace-builders
Funds for Israeli and Palestinian peace-building activities are scarce and the challenges on the ground are numerous. This unfortunately creates a climate of competition between peace-building NGOs and movements. Most organizations work in their own bubble and have limited interactions with their peers. B8 of Hope is creating a safe forum for our pool of grantees. They share values and goals, while working separately. Their diversity is an asset, their angles and perspectives can be complementary. Collaboration and partnership make their voice louder. Creating synergies and collaboration opportunities will be a game-changer that will boost the overall impact. This rule also applies to B8 of Hope and its partners in Switzerland, Europe and the US.
- Polarization outside of Israel and Palestine
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict polarizes public opinion outside of Israel and Palestine. We need to put an end to the inflated influence of external factions and interests. Adding more fuel to the conflict is not helpful. Instead, B8 of Hope promotes a “pro-just and peaceful coexistence” perspective and supports the courageous Israelis and Palestinians on the ground that work tirelessly to pave a path for it.
We support our Israeli and Palestinian grantees in many ways:
- Providing funds for their activities through fund-raising events in Geneva. Our funds come mainly from private Arab, Jewish, international expat and local Swiss donors.
- Giving visibility to initiatives through conferences, documentary screenings followed by Q/A sessions (these include the peace activists and protagonists from the films), and press and media coverage for interviews and articles.
- Creating networking opportunities with philanthropic institutions and influential decision-makers.
- Offering advice in terms of governance and capacity-building during our due diligence phase and after. We periodically provide an in-depth analysis of our grantees’ reports and management styles, we collaborate with them in order to develop plans to improve infrastructures and put in place capacity-building training. Providing a safe forum and platform to promote synergy building activities and workshops: this encourages collaboration between the initiatives, and increases their impact while saving funds and energy.
- Creating a community of supporters abroad that is inspired by their work.
OUR VALUES: Humanization, Inclusivity, Respect and Rejection of violence
We value dialogue, bridge-building, transformative interactions which lead to humanization, and inclusivity.
We value constructive changes which enforce respect, dignity, human rights, security and rejection of all forms of violence.
photograph © Saskia Keeley
“Hope is like a candle, the current situation like a hurricane, we must do everything we can to keep the flame alive.”
–Avner Wishnitzer, Co-founder of Combatants for Peace