Israel Update - Summer 2018 TwitterFacebook
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Government Updates

Ministry of Education Promoting Leadership Centers for Arab Youth

BridgetechIn 2018, the Ministry of Education approved a new gap-year leadership center for Arab youth to be run by Desert Stars in the Negev. It also approved ongoing funding for two existing centers. Leadership centers are part of government efforts to close informal education gaps in Arab society. They are an alternative to pre-military educational programs (mechinot) in Jewish society and cater to Arab youth's social and cultural background. The two existing centers are the Sanabel Center in Wadi-Ara operated by Ajyal (part of Ha'shomer Ha'tzair), and the high-tech focused Bridgetech in the Negev operated by AJEEC-NISPED. Participants in leadership centers engage in personal empowerment; civic participation and 21st century skills; academic and career training and counseling; volunteering; and Arab and Israeli culture.


Innovation Authority's High-Tech "Coding Bootcamps" Tender Awarded

Bedouin-Sector-AppleseedsIn response to a growing need in the high-tech industry for skilled professionals, the Israel Innovation Authority is launching "coding bootcamps" (high-tech training in non-academic settings). According to Minister of Economy Eli Cohen, these are intended to “increase the number of alternative ways of entering the high-tech industry ... while broadening the opportunities for people with high potential with different backgrounds." Seven organizations were selected to run the bootcamps including, from civil society, Appleseeds Academy and Kav Mashve, and the private sector, Experis KickstartITC (Israel Tech Challenge); Infinity LabsElevation Academy; and Primrose. The program is expected to yield as many as 280 graduates in the first year alone (almost 10% of annual university graduates in tech), with tracks for under-represented populations.


Knesset and Legislation

Knesset Marks Third Annual Arabic Language Day

Ligh-Rail-cmgnOn July 3rd, the Knesset marked its third annual “Arabic Language Day” with discussions on the significance of Arabic in Israeli society, and in particular the status of Arabic education in public schools, health services, and government communications. Originated and hosted over the past three years by MK Dr. Yousef Jabareen (Joint Arab List), this year the initiative also included a week-long public Arabic-learning campaign issued by the Jerusalem Light-Rail system in cooperation with Madrasa, a free Arabic-learning online initiative, recognition and encouragement by President Rivlin, and several statements and reports issued by civil society organizations. 


Nation-State Bill Passes First Reading, Preparations Begun for Second

Nation-State committeeThe latest version of the proposed "Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People" (informally known as the Nation-State Bill or the Nationality Bill) passed a first reading in the Knesset on April 30th (64:50). This is a significant milestone for a law that has been presented to the Knesset in various iterations since 2011 and repeatedly shelved as too controversial. The bill passed this reading by virtue of amendments that enabled coalition parties to temporarily support it, as well as an agreement that it would be immediately put on hold and subject to further amendments before advancing further. In efforts to meet PM Netanyahu's plans to bring the legislation to second and third votes by mid-July, the revision process has resumed, with changes to the status of Arabic in Israel dropped from the latest version.


New Parliamentary Committee to Address Arab Employment in Civil Service

Civil-Service-TableA new Parliamentary Committee on Arab Employment and Social Equality will address Arab representation in civil service jobs. According to the Citizens Empowerment Center in Israel (CECI), Arab citizens make up 11.3% of civil servants overall, with heavy concentration in only a few ministries (see adjacent chart). In addition, Arabs are nearly absent from top management tiers. The Committee, chaired by MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint Arab List), will be jointly run by the Knesset Committee and the Labor and Welfare committee and will also look into employment of Arab women and Arab academics in universities.


Public Discourse

Public Protests Against Arab Integration into Jewish Communities

Protests-AfulaIn recent months, several events have taken place in which Jewish residents protested publicly against Arab integration into the community or Arab use of community facilities. These included Arab real-estate purchases in Kfar Vradim and in Afula, Bedouin use of a public swimming pool in a Negev kibbutz, and a proposal to open a Jewish-Arab kindergarten in Karmiel. Several civil society leaders say the frequency and nature of these protests suggests that anti-Arab discourse used by political leaders is not only more prevalent, but now also more acceptable to express in public among local leaders and citizens.


Ramadan in Arab Society: Internal Reflection and Shared Society Activities

TAFIMuslims in Israel observed Ramadan from May 16th to June 15th. this year, was clashes along the Gaza border affected the atmosphere, with many opting out of celebrations, instead banding together to raise money for Gaza residents. Ramadan was also marked by focus on issues of crime and violence in Arab society. The Abraham Fund Initiatives (TAFI) launched a first-of-its-kind campaign in Arab society against toy guns and fireworks during Ramadan (see image) and reports on a new level of coverage in Arabic media of fights, riots and vandalism by Arab youth that took place in some Arab communities and vacation resorts. At the same time, growing growing numbers of Jewish Israelis participated in Ramadan shared society activities, visiting Arab communities and attending joint celebrations through Ramadan Nights Tourscommunity Iftar dinners and a Ramadan Peace Festival in the Negev Era Industrial Park. A special Iftar dinner was held at President Rivlin's residence, holiday greeting (in English) were sent by PM Netanyahu, and a first-ever Ramadan event was held at the Prime Minister's office.


Jewish-Arab Protest of Gaza Border Confrontations End in Violence

Protest-PaperIn May, protests along the Gaza border led to the most violent confrontations between Palestinians and Israel’s military since 2014. On May 18th, Jewish-Arab protests in Haifa of the military's use of force led to violent clashes with police, detainment of 21 Arab citizen demonstrators, and in particular, injury to an Arab NGO leader over the course of his arrest. The events in Haifa within the larger context of confrontations on the Gaza border and the US embassy move to Jerusalem, provoked strong response from within Arab society and heated exchanges between Jewish and Arab national political leadership. This update summarizes the events, Arab citizen response, related discourse and impact on state-minority relations.


High Rates of Violent Crime Top Arab Community Concerns

protes-HaifaA recent assessment by the Knesset Research Center  shows that crime and violence within Arab society are significantly higher than in Jewish society, with five times the number of murder victims. In 2017 alone, 70 Arab citizens were killed due to murder and manslaughter, with another 23 killed since the beginning of 2018. The scale of violence and related concerns over law enforcement and police services are repeatedly cited as a primary concern of the Arab public. According to a 2017 poll by the Konrad Adenauer Program for Jewish Arab Cooperation at Tel Aviv University, violent crime is a greater concern than discrimination, economic development, or Palestinian issues. However, longstanding tensions between Israel's police and Arab society are a top-challenge to law enforcement. An Abraham Fund Initiatives position paper from June 2018 describes problems of under-policing in terms of enforcement against crime and over-policing related to perceptions of Arab society as a security threat.


Bedouin Families Sign Agreement to Relocate from Umm Al-Hiran

Um-El-HiranFollowing weeks of protests of plans to complete demolition of the unrecognized village of Umm al-Hiran, 170 Bedouin families came to an agreement with the Authority for the Development and Settlement for the Bedouin and the Israel Lands Authority. The families agreed to move to a neighborhood in the nearby town of Hura and accepted land and monetary compensation in return. The unrecognized village has been the subject of significant controversy over a 15-year legal battle over the rights to the land and plans to develop the Jewish community of Hiran in its place. Confrontations turned deadly in January 2017 when police action to demolish homes resulted in the shooting death of a Bedouin resident and vehicular death of police officer, sparking further protests and elevating tensions in state-minority relations.


Israel at 70: Arab Citizen Perspectives

Iz-70-stats Israel marked its 70th Independence Day on April 19th, 2018 (5th day of Iyar). Such national milestones are complex for Arab citizens. For most Arab citizens, this day is associated with the Nakba, or 'catastrophe,' whose commemoration is often "perceived as an act of defiance" in Israel, while on a more pragmatic level there have been many developments around the status of Arab citizens. A number of leading Arab voices reflected on these changes and the difficulty bridging the gap between the "joyous outpouring of the Jews celebrating their statehood and the personal tragedy of the Arabs." MK Ayman Odeh published an op-ed in the New York Times, "Israel Celebrates Its Independence, We Mourn Our Loss" saying recognition of the tragedy is necessary to get past it. Thabet Abu Rass, co-director of The Abraham Fund Initiatives, suggested in The Jerusalem Post that the government should put forward a five-year plan for “building a shared society in Israel," because there is greater socio-economic mobility and investment into Arab society, but also worsening incitement and alienation from the government. Nasreen Hadad Haj-Yahya, Director of the Jewish-Arab Program at the Israel Democracy Institute, wrote that in her vision, Israel in another 70 years is "a tolerant state where all are equal before the law, and all are equally participating in the affairs of state." Arab citizens, she writes, "want the opportunity to take part in making that change" and need opportunities to participate in decision making circles.


Research Publications


Taub Center | Arab Israeli Women Entering the Labor Market: Higher Education, Employment, and Wages

A study published in March 2018 by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel reported on Arab women entering Israel’s labor market and examined developments in education and employment, with a first ever breakdown for Muslim, Druze, Christian and Bedouin women. According to the study, gaps remain between Jewish and Arab society, but among Arab women many positive trends are forming which "can lead to substantial changes in the integration of this population group into the labor market, and thus serve as a source of future growth for the Israeli economy."



NCJW and Dafna Fund mapping of Women in Israel

In a joint partnership, NCJW and the Dafna Fund presented an overview of issues related to feminism and women and girls in Israel. The research and Executive Summary provide insights into the field, government and political representation, public discourse on women's rights, advances being made, and the landscape of non-profit work. The report shows growing representation of Arab women in politics; increased discourse on Arab feminism; opportunities for Arab women’s leadership, including programs for Bedouin women "to acquire key skills in community activism and engage in social action"; and an increase in Arab women in higher education.



Israel: A Social Report, 2017

In January, the Adva Center published its annual social report, examining trends in income inequality through household income and individual wages and the inequality in schools, higher education, housing, and health. Their findings showed that while inequality among Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel still exists, there are improvements in wage levels in Arab localities; an increase in higher education among Arab households below the poverty line; a decrease in infant mortality rates among Arabs; and an increase in life expectancy among both Arab men and women.



A Systemic Plan is Needed to Eradicate Crime in Arab Society - Amnon Beeri-Sulitzeanu and Dr. Thabet Abu Ras - The Abraham Fund Initiatives - June 2018

Non-Formal Education in Arab Society in Israel: Vision and Reality - Nasreen Hadad Haj-Yahya, Arik Rudnitzk - Israel Democracy Institute - Policy Paper No. 122., May 2018. (Abstract in English)

Arab Authorities and the Role of Integrator/Economic Developer: Challenges in Maximizing the Implementation of Government Resolution 922 - Keren Doron Katz, Cigal Bar Tal, Khawla Rehani - JDC Israel Institute for Leadership and Governance - April 2018

The bilingual school – an educational model for civic equality in a divided society - Ilana Paul-Binyamin & Wurud Jayusi - Faculty of Education, Beit Berl College - Intercultural Education - Mar. 2018

Civil Society Updates

first cohort

New program to increase Arab representation on boards

JDC's Institute for Leadership and Governance and The Abraham Fund Initiatives created a new program to fill a gap in Arab leadership on boards of major civil society and public organizations by training, placing and on-boarding high-level Arab business people, civil servants, professionals and civic leaders into lay positions. Many social and community development organizations serve in Arab society, but few have Arab leaders on their boards. The first cohort of 15 began training in April.

moona apple

MOONA Space for Change
inaugurates Apple Innovation lab

In February, Moona, Space for Change, located in the Galilee village of Majd al-Kurum, inaugurated an Apple Innovation Lab to bring together Jewish and Arab youth for practical high-tech work focused on Augmented Reality (AR). Apple will donate equipment, training and technical support. The lab’s activities will be integrated into Moona’s key programs which collectively involve 100 Jewish and Arab schools, the Drone High School Competition and Escape Room Middle School Competition.


Masira's NGO Forum meets with President of Sharia Courts

In March, the Masira Fund's NGO Forum, which brings together 11 Arab-led NGOs serving people with disabilities, met for shared learning and coordination, including a discussion with Prof. Ahmad Natour of the Hebrew University and President of the Israeli Sharia Courts on the perception of people with disabilities in Islam. The Masira Fund is collaboration between Arab business leaders, philanthropists and JDC-Israel to raise awareness about and serve Arab citizens with disabilities.


Ein Shemer Ecological Greenhouse adds "Makers" program

Over the last five years, more than 300 Jewish and Arab students from 10 different schools took part The Ein Shemer Ecological Greenhouse "Growing Together" collaborative learning program. This year, students from Barta'a and Pardes Hana participated in the first "Makers" component of the program, jointly building water and wind energy solutions and presenting those to parents and the community at the closing event in March.


New Program Promotes Arab PhDs in Haifa

The Rothschild Caesarea Foundation launched a program in partnership with Neuroscience Department at the University of Haifa and implemented by Alrowad for Science and Technology, to support Arab science PhDs. It includes full scholarships for three Arab women neuroscience doctoral candidates currently at the University of Haifa, and workshops for Arab doctoral candidates in science and technology from the University of Haifa and Technion to develop skills in grant writing, advanced computer applications, managing research budgets, English language presentation, as well as personal empowerment and networking.


10th TEC Project International Online Day

The TEC (Technology, Education and Cultural Diversity) project uses technology to bring together Arab and Jewish educational staff and students for joint activities and exploration of both cultures and identities. This March, the TEC4Schools Program at Mofet Institute held its tenth International Online Day, with over 3,000 Jewish and Arab children from 120 schools and various guests including staff from the Ministry of Education participating in activities in Arabic and Hebrew.  


Equality in Public Transportation in Arab Communities
, Conference and Public Transportation Guide by Sikkuy

This May, Sikkuy held a conference on public transportation in Arab communities, calling on experts to discuss gaps in services; how best to use resources allocated under GR-922; issues related to infrastructure; and additional funding needed to ensure existing gaps can be closed. During the conference Sikkuy released a Hebrew language guide to help Arab municipalities collect data, map community needs and create better interactions with governmental bodies to maximize results.


Shalom Hartman Institutes' Min HaBe'erot Initiative

Min HaBe’erot brings together Jewish and Arab educators and students around religious text study and discussion of their identities and cultures. This year, the program widened to include 80 students from the El Bironi School in Jdeide-Maker and the Reali School in Haifa, who had their fourth encounter in May.

Recent Awards and Recognitions

Desert Stars

Desert Stars wins President's Award for Volunteerism for its work bringing together Bedouin teenagers and young adults—boys and girls, men and women, from different families and tribes—around united leadership development for the Negev Bedouin community. It received the award for addressing current needs in Israeli society with originality and deep commitment.

Kher Award

Kher Albaz, Co-Executive Director of AJEEC-NISPED, received the Negev Pioneers Award at the Negev Conference 2018, held in March, in recognition of his efforts fostering socioeconomic development in the periphery, specifically his contribution to partnership and cooperation between the Bedouin and Jewish communities in the region.


Bathsheva Moshe, CEO of UNISTREAM, which promotes business entrepreneurship among youth in underprivileged communities, and Ola Baker Salameh, Founder of Sebana Medical Biomed, Israel's only medical bio-pharmaceutical company founded by an Arab woman, were selected as the top "40 under 40 promising young adults of Israel" by Globes Magazine.

Marker women biomed

Reem Younis, Co-Founder of Alpha Omega, Israel's largest Arab owned high tech company in Israel, and Prof. Mouna Maroun, Head of the Neuroscience Department at Haifa University, were selected as two of the 20  Influential Women Changing the Face of Israeli Health Services by The Marker Magazine.

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