Task Force Activities
In a session focused on efforts to close socio-economic gaps between the Arab and Jewish communities in Israel, Task Force Executive Director Michal Steinman will moderate discussion with leading government, civil society and private sector leaders on innovative and effective solutions. Join us to hear about government plans and programs that address the challenges and opportunities facing Israel and its largest minority community.
Over the summer, the status of Israel’s delicate balance of its Jewish and democratic commitments were in the international spotlight following the passage of the Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People. Much of this spotlight focused on Israel’s Arab citizens who, at nearly 21 percent of the population, are by far its largest non-Jewish minority. What are the mutual obligations and responsibilities of a state and its citizens? How is this different in the case of Arab citizens of the state of the Jewish people? Prof. Wattad will address these issues on a speaking tour in the U.S. in September 2018.
While initial opposition to the Nation-State Law was focused on broadly shared concerns about Israel’s commitment to equal citizenship for all, since its passage, this discourse has become differentiated by community groups and interests. The Druze community, wider Arab society, and Jewish political leadership have coalesced around different critiques. Debate has also been ongoing in the American Jewish community.
In recent years, the benefits of bringing Israel's Arab citizens into the country's main economic engine—the high-tech industry—have earned wide recognition for the potential to both fill a domestic shortage of industry talent and close socio-economic gaps in Arab society. After 10 years of efforts, the number of Arab high-tech professionals in Israel has increased significantly, yet proportional and broad based representation is an ongoing pursuit.
The new Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People is widely perceived within Israel’s Arab society and among shared society organizations as a turning point in Jewish-Arab and state-minority relations and its passage has been met with strong opposition. In an earlier briefing document, the Task Force detailed the discourse for and against the law, and controversy surrounding its substance. This update summarizes Arab and civil-society response in the weeks since its passage; government and political leadership responses in return; and actions taken by shared society organizations.
In July 2018, directors from some of Israel's leading companies personally submitted 'progress reports' on their integration of Arab employees to President of Israel Reuven Rivlin as part of the third annual Collective Impact Employers Conference. Held in the Bedouin town of Kuseife, the conference marked three years of cooperation between the Collective Impact Partnership for Arab Employment (CI) and President Rivlin's Israeli Hope for Employment initiative, which are working together to achieve a breakthrough in Arab representation within Israel's core business sector.