The Citizens’ Accord Forum (CAF) is a leading social change organization in Israel which works to build a shared and sustainable democratic society through civic engagement, policy and legislation, education and leadership development. Established in 2001 by then- Minister Rabbi Michael Melchior in response to the alarming growth in rifts and lack of cooperation between different sectors of Israeli society, CAF endeavors to mend rifts in society by encouraging constructive engagement between diverse groups and empowering civic leadership in the public sphere.
In addressing the core problems present in Israeli society, CAF uses Deliberative Dialogue and multi-track methodology. CAF’s programs involve both ordinary citizens as well as those in decision-making roles in local and national government, and non-governmental institutions.
CAF organises public events and conferences on issues of civil concern in Israeli society. In 2005 CAF launched the Jaffa Convention, the first national gathering to set a public agenda focusing on equity and bridging the gaps between Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens. The gathering serves as a primary forum for the discussion of Jewish-Arab relations in Israel and addresses various aspects of building a shared society. The Jaffa Convention now takes place annually, attracting more than 1,000 people including legislators, academics, activists, and ordinary citizens.
CAF also runs the Youth Parliaments of Israel’s Mixed Cities in order to develop youth leadership and promote greater understanding between Jews and Arabs, focusing on youth as a starting point to involve and integrate their wider communities in shared activities which are implemented by the Jewish and Arab youth. CAF created the Youth Parliaments to empower Jewish and Arab teens to take responsibility for their own lives, to develop their ability to engage in cooperative action for the benefit of their communities, and to improve the relationships within the mixed cities. CAF Youth Parliaments are active in Jaffa, Akko, Lod, and Haifa. The program is supported by USAID, the Rayne Foundation (UK) and other donors.
Youth Parliament members have held joint activities in their cities to encourage understanding, tolerance and acceptance of each other’s cultures. The program has successfully enabled positive relations to develop between the participating pupils, their peers, educational staff, municipal workers and others, and has presented a model of successful Jewish-Arab cooperation to the broader community.
CAF also works with Jewish and Arab MKs to address issues of civic concern. In recent years CAF has developed considerable expertise in bringing Haredim and Arabs together to identify and work on solutions to shared civil concerns, employing the Deliberative Dialogue methodology. This program is currently funded by the European Union, USAID and other organizations.