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.
Mohammad Darawshe, Director for the Center for Equality & Shared Society at Givat Haviva in Israel, spoke about the impact of the 1967 events and their lasting effects on Arab citizens of Israel, as part of a panel at the symposium hosted by JCPA and ARZA in commemoration and reflection on the 50th anniversary of Israel's Six-Day War.
Now in its second year, the plan is already changing state-minority relations in Arab localities throughout Israel, and aims to boost Arab citizens' workforce participation, close gaps between the Arab minority and Jewish majority, and boost growth for the country as a whole.