By Brian Blum - October 2, 2018

The 30 young men and women studying software development, graphic design and 3D printing at Yeruham’s high-tech incubator earlier this month did not seem out of place in the Startup Nation. But for at least half the participants, it was a new world.

The two-week Tech2Peace seminar was sponsored by A New Dawn in the Negev, a non-profit organization founded in 2009 to improve the quality of life for Israel’s Bedouin community. Some 130 candidates applied. Half of those accepted were Bedouins and other Arab Israelis; the other half were Jewish residents of Israel’s south.

The integration of the two populations in the seminar was intentional, says Jamal Alkirnawi, the 39-year-old founder and CEO of A New Dawn. “Change will only come through working together,” Alkirnawi tells ISRAEL21c. “We are less powerful if we are separate.”

That’s been Alkirnawi’s modus operandi since he started A New Dawn, following a seven-year position as the academic counselor for Arab students at Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev.

“Arab students face a lot of difficulties because they usually live with their families in their communities until the age of 18,” Alkirnawi says. “So when they get to university, it’s often the first time they’re exposed to Israeli society, to being an Israeli citizen. It can be shocking.”

Read More: Israel21c