Through A Wider Bridge Impact Grant, Adi Sadaka and Arnon Allouche from the Haifa Communities’ Home are touring the United States to talk about building a feminist, multicultural LGBTQ Center. They were interviewed by Scott Duff and Ellen Miller of the Out Chicago Podcast. Learn more about the AWB Impact Haifa tour happening now!
Click here for podcast. Transcripts from Adi and Arnon’s interview are below.
Scott: The Legacy Project and the Center on Halsted are partnering up with A Wider Bridge to welcome representatives of the Haifa Communities’ House LGBTQ Center in Israel, who will share their efforts to preserve LGBTQ history from Muslim, Jewish, and Christian Communities.
Scott: Joining us in the studio is Victor Salvo from the Legacy Project, Laurie Grauer, Director of the Chicago Chapter of A Wider Bridge, and on the phone we have Adi Sadaka and Arnon Allouche from Haifa Communities’ House. Welcome to the show!
Scott: We have a lot of people here, let’s start with Arnon. What is the Haifa Communities’ House and how did it come about?
Arnon: This was the second community center [in Israel] that is built and fully funded by the municipality. The first one is in Tel Aviv. It was built after a struggle [by] lot of activists in Haifa for the last few years. We opened the Community Center a year ago. It gives give services to everyone from the age of 13 and our oldest member is 73.
Arnon: We try to give services according to culture, to the LGBTQ communities, the different aspects, culture needs of every community.
Arnon: We are doing the best we can to bring as many Arabs as we can, as many newcomers that are English speakers, Russian speakers, we try to build programs for everyone in the center.
Scott: So what sort of programs are you creating?
Arnon: A lot of social activities for kids from age 13 to 23. Social groups for each kind of group – lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans. We tried to build a program with Haifa University for Arab activists. It was a year of building the program and unfortunately it was very hard to find people to participate because of the big conflict and complex identity of being LGBT and Palestinian and work with Israelis. But we are not giving up and recently we started to work with students who are going to build up a Facebook site fully in Arabic, to give services and knowledge for Arabs in Israel. This will be a first.
Scott: Wow, that sounds like you’re doing some very important work that’s going on!
Ellen: Are you finding that the youth are looking at life differently than maybe older generations did when it comes to Arabs and Jews coming together? Are you finding hope there?
Arnon: A bit. I will be very cautious and I’ll say that we are working and teaching youth [through our partner Igy] that [this is a] joint struggle, a feminist struggle, and a Palestinian struggle, and a queer struggle – so that they learn that our struggle is any minorities’ struggle, any oppressed population. So we try our best to teach the youth in Israel that any struggle is our struggle and we need to join together to become a better and stronger force to make a change in Israel.
Scott: It seems like the common goal, the common thread would be the LGBTQ community. Adi are you there?
Scott: So you are the program manager, and you are currently leading the Haifa LGBTQ history project. In your work have you found any similarities between the LGBTQ communities in the US and in Haifa?
Adi: I can tell you we started the program two years ago, we try to find the main story of Haifa through the personal stories of the people that we interview. Each stories has a different point of view. Haifa has a beautiful history of activism, struggle for budget, and for the [LGBTQ Center] that we have after 20 years of fighting for this.
Adi: But I’m not sure if it’s the same in the USA. I can talk about the differences between Haifa and Tel Aviv. When you talk about Israel, you always talk about Tel Aviv. Or maybe Jerusalem. If you want to talk about the real struggle in Israel.
Adi: But also in Haifa we have a struggle with the municipality. And actually only after the murder happened in the [Pride] parade in 2015 in Jerusalem, the municipality in Haifa agreed to talk with us. I was a part of a group called Haifa Rainbow that was lucky enough to talk with the municipality and to get the budget and the [LGBTQ Center] house. At the same time, we started the [LGBTQ History] project by talking with people from age 40 [on up] about the history of Haifa from the 50s.