Task Force Activities
Dozens initiatives have begun to amplify the voices of Jewish and Arab citizens calling for calm and solidarity, and many Jewish and Arab citizens have taken to the streets in demonstrations of solidarity.
Below is a compilation of English-lanugage statements and commitments by Jewish and Arab leaders and shared society organizations. As questions grow about what will happen 'the day after', we believe these reflect the underlying current among leaders looking to restore and rebuild in the days ahead.
Join us on Wednesday, May 19 at 1pm Eastern for a conversation with Ola Najami, Director of Safe Communities at The Abraham Initiatives, Ruth Lewin Chen, Director of the Shared Cities Initiative at The Abraham Initiatives, and Naim Obeid, CEO of the Akko Center for Arts and Technology (A-CAT) for a discussion of their experience on the ground and outlook for the work ahead.
In a symbolic indicator of Israel’s successful vaccination campaign, starting this week, Israelis will not need to wear masks in outdoor settings. COVID-19 cases are falling dramatically in general Israeli society and Arab society: since the peak of the pandemic in Israel in January, the daily number of diagnosed patients in Israel has declined by 98% and 87% fewer Israelis are dying from COVID-19. Yet as Israel slowly begins to move toward a post-COVID reality, its Arab citizens are still starting their second Ramdan and wedding season in a pandemic. A close examination reveals that COVID-19 remains a grave threat in portions of Arab society and that low vaccination rates present significant challenges, particularly within Negev Bedouin communities. The Ministry of Health has warned that Ramadan and wedding season may lead to an increase in cases in Arab communities, particularly in places where vaccination rates remain low.
As part of its 2020 annual report, the Bank of Israel conducted an in-depth review of the socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Arab society. Looking at financial security, food security, and education, findings indicate that Arab citizens of Israel faced significant challenges across these areas and were overall more severely impacted by the pandemic than Jewish citizens. For example, 54% of Arabs reported that their financial situation became worse during the pandemic compared to 42% of Jews; 17% of Arabs reported that their financial situation became significantly worse, nearly three times that of Jews. Regarding food security, 26% of Arabs reported they had to decrease their food consumption compared to 14% of Jews. Only 30% of Arab families had adequate internet remote learning infrastructure compared to 75% of Jewish (non-Haredi) families. Referencing 2018 data, the report concludes that longstanding under and unemployment, and poverty in Arab communities led to decreased preparedness and resilience among Arab communities faced with a prolonged and unexpected crisis, and thus anticipate a slow and challenging recovery.
In December 2020, Hassan Tawafra began his tenure as the new director of the Authority for Economic Development of Arab Society within the Ministry of Social Equality. The Authority promotes and manages programs that aim to reduce socioeconomic gaps between Arab and Jewish citizens and improve Arab integration into the Israeli economy. In this capacity, Hassan will oversee wide-ranging programs to improve the socio-economic well-being of Arab citizens of Israel and corresponding budgets.