Israel’s Arab society has exceptionally limited access to extracurricular and after-school activities, while also suffering from the high rates of poverty, youth dropout, inactivity, and delinquency that informal education is known to address. Improving the availability and attractiveness of these frameworks for Arab youth has come to be viewed as a social and economic priority, and in 2015, informal education was included as a major component of Government Resolution 922, the historic five-year economic development plan for all of Israel’s Arab society, with NIS 650 million allocated to its advancement.
20 Israeli Arab and Jewish high school age youth will speak about their daily realities and the experience of participating in Through Others' Eyes, a year-long photography program offered by Givat Haviva. During the program, the youth explore questions of idenity, culture, faith, and coexistence together through photography.
In early May, the Knesset approved a preliminary reading of MK Avi Dichter’s (Likud) Nation-State Bill with a vote of 48-41. Various versions of this bill have been presented to the Knesset since 2011, with this most recent version last discussed and put on hold at the end of 2015 following significant controversy.
The stated purpose of the Nation State Bill is to “defend the character of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, in order to anchor in Israel’s Basic Laws the State of Israel’s values as a Jewish and democratic state, in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel.” Basic Laws take precedence over other lesiglation, guide the legal system in the absence of a constitution and are more difficult to repeal than regular laws.
In early November 2016, MK Jamal Zahalka (Joint List) submitted a bill for recognition of the Arab minority as a national minority. This was the sixth time such a bill was floated (identical versions were initiated in May 2001, July 2003, October 2009, July 2013, and June 2015), but the first time it got as far as a preliminary reading in the Knesset plenum. The bill was – as expected – rejected, with 77 opposed versus 19 in favor.
Observance of the holy month of Ramadan begins this year on May 26th for Muslims across the globe, including the 1.4 million Muslims citizens of Israel, and will culminate with the celebration of Id El Fitr on June 25-27. Throughout the month, Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown, breaking the fast each day with the traditional iftar meal. Ramadan also marks a special period of reflection, prayer, charity, and family gatherings for the community.
This year, building and expanding on their experiences in past years, a number of civil society organizations in Israel continued to develop programming to turn this major Muslim holiday into an opportunity for enhanced Jewish-Arab interactions, understanding and neighborly relations.
The 7th annual Community Education Day on Arab citizens of Israel featured a screening of the documentary 77 Steps followed by a panel discussion with Fida Nara, Co-Director of Mahapach-Taghir,and Reem Zoabi Abu Ishak, Director of Nazareth Riyan Employment Center.