The morning of October 7 was marred by tragedy and horror as Hamas launched its attack against Israel. By the evening of that same day, 220 Shatil-guided activists convened on Zoom. They have been working together daily ever since.

Shatil – the civil society organizing and training department of the New Israel Fund in Israel – has long known that inter-communal friction can turn violent. The last time inter-communal violence spiked was in May 2021. Then, to help de-escalate the violence, Shatil mobilized the Shared Society Forum, an project frequently funded by NIFC meant to help shared society organizations work together, for the first time. Then, in February 2023, when the most extreme government Israel has ever seen took office, Shatil facilitated a day-long seminar for the Forum’s members so that they could plan, collaborate, and strategize around worst case scenarios, including the violent ways they expected this government to respond to inter-communal eruptions. Little did these NGO staffers know that less than a year later, they would need to begin implementing those plans in earnest.

By the end of the first week of the war, the members of the Forum divided into working groups and set about launching initiatives. I’lam: Arab Center for Media Freedom, Development and Research and Sikkuy-Aufoq: For a Shared and Equal Society, together with NIFC-funded partner FakeReporter, worked on training Palestinian citizens of Israel to identify and respond to incitement and disinformation about their communities. Canadian-funded partners Tzedek Centers and Abraham Initiatives, as well as Givat Haviva, built situation rooms in mixed cities to establish an on-the-ground presence.

“In 2021, the Forum was just beginning to figure out how to work together,” The Forum’s Coordinator Ella Yedaya said. “Today, trust has been established among Forum members, and we are much better prepared for this crisis.”

Now, NIFC, Shatil and the Forum, give shared society organizations an up-to-date picture of the needs on the ground and enable interested foundations to support specific activities carried out by the organizations. They are also training organizations to approach funders who can fund emergency actions.

The Shared Society Forum is tenacious in its work to ensure that the vision of Israel’s future is a shared one with equality and security for all.

As Forum member Sally Abed, Palestinian citizen of Israel and Standing Together (Omdim Beyachad–Naqif Ma’an) staffer said in a recent NIFC webinar: “This may be the darkest moment, the most catastrophic” that Israel has seen yet; “But,” she continued, “We are at a juncture that might be a turning point, in which we can create a new prism through which we see [our society].”