Task Force Activities
The Task Force helped develop and wil moderate a session at the 2018 General Assembly on efforts to close socio-economic gaps between Israel's Arab and Jewish communities.
With growing gaps between the Arab and Jewish communities in Israel, Israel’s survival relies on innovative and effective solutions. In this session, we’ll learn about cutting-edge programs and interventions in the fields of education, employment and municipal programming which address the challenges and opportunities facing Israel and its largest minority community.
- Suzan Hasan, Director, Employment Programs for Arabs and Career Advancement, JDC;
- Prof. Mona Khoury-Kassabri, Dean of the School of Social Work, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem;
- Prof. Eran Halperin, School of Psychology, IDC Herzliya;
- Fatmeh Shaban, Mentor, the Jewish Agency for Israel's Youth Futures;
- Moderated by Michal Steinman, Task Force Executive Director.
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.