On June 17, 2015, First Lady Nechama Rivlin attended and spoke at the inauguration of the Arab Museum of Contemporary Art (AMOCA) in Sakhnin, in the north of Israel. Also addressing the event were: the museum’s founder Bello Piñeiro, mayor of Sakhnin Mazen Ganaim, and the Ambassador of France to Israel, Patrick Maisonnave.

First Lady Rivlin congratulated all those involved on the opening of the museum, and noted its importance as a place that blended Jewish and Arabic works of art.

She said, “When we think of Israeli and Arabic art and creativity, the pieces are not simply created in parallel spaces, but often compete with each other for space. Artists compete about who will better sculpt this land. They ask, who will paint with a starker brush, who will draw the features of this land more accurately. And so art becomes a competition.

Specifically for this reason, I am delighted to be here today at the museum of Arabic art and heritage in Sakhnin. This museum, which blends the work of Jews and Arabs, is a revolutionary museum. It is a museum which urges ‘coming together’. It is a museum which challenges the artists who live in their own private spaces, and calls on them to meet with other artists, from other places, with different associations. A new partnership and cooperation will be created here, which does not distinguish between Arab or Jew.

The time has come for us to recognize that we do not live in parallel spaces, but rather share the same space, a space in which we must meet, not as strangers, or out of pain, but as partners. I am deeply hopeful that this wonderful project will succeed and the museum will be a meeting place, between Jews and Arabs, between artists.”

AMOCA, the Arab Museum of Contemporary Art, opens its doors in Sakhnin with the aim of making contemporary art accessible to the Arab and Jewish population living in the region through the display of art in direct contact with the people and in co-operation with them. The vision of AMOCA is to create dialogue, meeting and co-operation between Jews and Arabs by means of contemporary art in change-generating projects with the aim of creating a platform for building mutual trust and resolution of disputes in alternative ways. The opening exhibition of the museum is titled HIWAR – dialogue.

picture / text copyright: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the office of the President