My name is Jamal Alkirnawi and I am founder and CEO of A New Dawn in the Negev, an NGO working to build a shared society between Jews and Arabs in Israel's Negev region. I'll be visiting the East Coast of the United States from June 2019 to July 2019, and I wanted to let you know a bit about myself and see if there's any possibility that we could meet during my time in the US and discuss collaborative partnership opportunities.
I am a Son of Rahat, a Bedouin town right outside of Be’er Sheva. I am born and raised in the Bedouin community in Israel's Negev Desert; and subject to the myriad of challenges that our youth face. I persevered because I knew education was the only way to advance myself and my community. I created the first Bedouin Youth Parliament of its kind, and my work began. This article talks about my experience as an adolescent growing up in Rahat, and how meeting students from Rehovot showed me a world that existed outside of my community. This was the moment that I decided to take leadership and action in my community to get out of the seclusion in Israel, and become a nomadic student.
After receiving a Masters in Social Work from McGill University in Canada and an MBA with a focus on social leadership from Ben Gurion University in the Negev, I was selected as one of 35 Young Leadership delegates to the first Echenberg Conference on Genocide Prevention. Following my studies I decided to devote my life to making a change in the Bedouin community of the Negev where I grew up. The Bedouin community has scarce socioeconomic resources and an alarmingly high educational drop-out rate, both in comparison to Israel’s mainstream population and its non-Bedouin, Arab counterparts. I felt like if I could move forward and succeed in education where others had not, I would be primed to help other Bedouin youth have these opportunities.
Ten years ago, I founded "A New Dawn" to make a change both within the Bedouin community and Israeli society. The objective of this program is to bring together the Jews and Bedouin of the Negev. We are a grassroots organization which believes that education, employment, and leadership are the key elements that can enable youth and young adults to rise out of poverty to become active, engaged citizens – which will in turn strengthen Israel as a shared society. With the goal of creating equal educational opportunities for Bedouin youth through a variety of projects – English learning, high-tech education, musical training, and more – we are working to end the isolation of Bedouin society by helping its youth break into the Israeli mainstream, while still maintaining a proud connection to their culture.
As a leader in my field, I have received the Tikvah Fund award from Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Ben Gurion University. My work has been recognized by funding from the United States Embassy, and I have received awards and fellowships from the Goldin Institute and the Anna Lindh Foundation, as well as the Recanati-Kop-Rashi Award for Entrepreneurship in Social Work. I have been interviewed by i24 News and my work has been covered by the Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, YNet, and Times of Israel.
Wishing you all the best, with a blessing of Shalom and Salaam,