Task Force Activities
Rising rates of violent crime continue to be a top-most concern in Israel’s Arab communities. Despite increased awareness and attention to the issue in recent years, the number of Arab lives ended by homicide has gone up annually since 2015, with 91 deaths in 2019—two-thirds of all cases in Israel. According to the Abraham Initiative’s Personal and Community Security Index of 2019, 60% of Arab citizens do not feel safe in their own communities.
In 2020, early concerns that the Coronavirus pandemic would lead to increased violent crime have borne out. Social confinement and the loss of jobs and income has led to an uptick in domestic and social violence (such as family feuds) and organized crime. As of June 2020, 47 Arab citizens have been claimed by manslaughter, including eight women, compared with 33 at this time in 2019. The Aman Center has recorded 15,000 acts of violence in Arab society in 2020 thus far and 30,000 in 2019—more than triple the number recorded by police.
In May 2020, PM Netanyahu made the annexation of the West Bank a top and urgent priority of the new unity government. While no action has been taken thus far and the parameters of possible annexation remain unclear, the declaration has generated strong responses within and outside of Israel. Arab public discourse in Israel is quite consistently opposed to the proposed annexation, but some see this as a powerful unifying factor for Jews and Arabs on the progressive left in Israel. This update looks at major areas of concern; demographic impact; and leadership, public and civil society discourse.
It’s been quite a year for the Arab LGBTQ movement in Israel. On top of COVID-19, protests and political crises, a series of events have pushed LGBTQ issues into the Arab public eye and national discourse. Most recently, a donation made by the Arab-owned Al-Arz Tahini company to Israel’s national LGBTQ association ignited unprecedented backlash both for supporting LGBTQ issues, as well as for not supporting them via an Arab NGO. As supporters rallied around Al-Arz in response, the ongoing controversy is bringing long-suppressed discussion of Arab LGBTQ issues into the open and onto the agendas of Arab leadership.
Hila Peer, Chairwoman of Aguda, Khader Abu Seif, activist and Spokesperson for Jaffa Arabs at the Tel Aviv Municipality featured in the 2015 film Oriented and Ohad Hizki, CEO of Aguda, discuss how this controversy sheds light on Arab LGBTQ realities and opportunities it presents for Jewish-Arab LGBTQ relations and the Arab LGBTQ movement in Israel.
After maintaining exceptionally low numbers of COVID-19 cases and related deaths in April and May 2020, a second and more intense wave of infections has been on the rise throughout Israel since June 2020. The second wave has more than doubled the total number of confirmed infections and tripled the number of cases in Arab society.
In May 2020, the Israel Employment Service, which provides free placement services for workers and employers, released a report on unemployment rates following the Coronavirus crisis. The report presents figures for May and compares poverty rates by religion. profession and locales.
Since June 9, protests over a plan to build a homeless shelter on an unearth Muslim cemetery have taken place in Jaffa. While the immediate cause of the riots is the Tel-Aviv-Jaffa municipality’s intention to build on the cemetery, some argued that residents actually have more profound grievances against the authorities. Three events in the past year have adversely effected Jaffa residents' relations with the authorities - the total closure of Jaffa's central street, Jerusalem Boulevard, for the construction of the light rail, at a short notice and contrary to plans promised to residents; the publication of an outline for a Muslim cemetery without consulting the local residents; and the violent riots that erupted in March due to arrests the police carried out there. Some are worried that the grievances of Jaffa Arab residents will cause further violent riots if the authorities will not address its root causes (Hebrew).