Dirasat - The Arab Center for Law and Policy
Dirasat - The Arab Center for Law and Policy
The Arab Center for Law and Policy - Dirasat, established in 2006, is a non-profit, non-governmental and non-partisan organization. Founded by a group of young Arab policy leaders, academics and social activists, Dirasat ('Studies' in Arabic) works on behalf of the Arab-Palestinian minority in Israel - currently some 20% of the country's population. Dirasat strives to achieve national recognition and meaningful participation in key policy forums and within society at large to ensure substantive equality for this indigenous linguistic, cultural and national group.
Today, Arab-Palestinian citizens in Israel consistently rank at the bottom of all major national socio-economic indicators and discrimination is a regular occurrence in resource allocations in nearly every field (particularly land, education, housing, employment and social services). Furthermore, Arab-Palestinian citizens continue to be excluded from centers of power, underrepresented in public institutions and nearly invisible in the public sphere. Dirasat, inspired by civil rights initiatives around the globe, aims to develop practical and innovative solutions to these seemingly insurmountable challenges while mobilizing Arab-Palestinians in their quest for basic human rights, justice and recognition.
Dirasat, a "think-and-do-tank," holds special distinction among Arab civil society organizations. While partnering with others in the quest for social change, no other organization combines the characteristics of Dirasat: professional structure, emphasis on applied research as a basis for the development of innovative policy recommendations and identification of proactive strategies to realize implementation of crucial reforms. To this end, Dirasat convenes forums of professionals and activists who formulate new ideas and produce counter knowledge. Outcomes of such forums aim to impact national decision-making; along with the leadership and the general public within the Arab-Palestinian community.
Dirasat promotes aspirations for substantive and equal citizenship by working with Arab-Palestinian professionals, entrepreneurs, academics and leaders. By facilitating meetings which bring together diverse individuals and organizations, Dirasat encourages expression of a wide range of opinions, promotes creative thinking and aspires to consensus building across party and group lines. Program participants are provided with the time, space and resources - human and otherwise - which enable them to reach agreement on recommended policy reform and legislation. Indeed, it is this exact translation of their ideas into concrete initiatives that characterizes Dirasat's work. Simultaneously, Dirasat enhances the capacity of the Arab minority leadership to make informed decisions on strategic directions and specific goals necessary for substantive citizenship.
Dirasat works on both the internal (within the Arab minority) and the external (national) levels, engaging in the following activities:
- Strategic planning
- Applied research
- Publication of position and policy papers containing concrete legal and policy reforms
- Dissemination of up-to-date and relevant information to bolster advocacy efforts
- Capacity-building and skills training for professionals, leaders and practitioners
- Initiation of seminars, round-table discussions and conferences
Current projects, chosen collaboratively, focus on advancing minority rights, promoting educational policies, improving Arab local government, information dissemination on the Arab minority, strengthening Arab University students and women's socio-economic empowerment.
As a research and public policy institute, Dirasat supports and enhances the work of fellow Arab and human rights advocacy organizations in Israel by providing fresh perspectives on goals, alternatives and strategies for social change. Leading academics, educators, decision-makers, professionals, members of Parliament, students and social activists have participated in a wide variety of Dirasat-sponsored public events. In the relatively short time since its founding, Dirasat has established itself as a recognized and valued resource within the Arab-Palestinian community and nationally. Colleagues and partner organizations engage in on-going cooperation with Dirasat regarding information-sharing, analysis and consultation. With the aid of supporters such as the European Union Commission in Israel and the Ford Foundation, Dirasat is well-placed to promote social justice and democracy in the coming years.