Task Force Activities
The Anti-Defamation League is a founding member of the Inter-Agency Task Force and continues to serve as an important voice on its executive committee. The organization has been very supportive of the Task Force mission to raise awareness about Arab citizens of Israel within the context of equal citizenship as promised in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. Throughout the 14 years of our existence, ADL has been consistent in its commitment to equal citizenship, as reflected in its own mission to combat defamation and discrimination against Jewish people and marginalized communities everywhere.
The Arab minority within Israel makes nearly 21% of Israel’s population, about 1.9 million people. Despite living side by side, Jewish and Arab citizens often navigate different social and economic spheres and have few opportunities for meaningful interaction. Along with holding distinct language, culture, and complex national identities, Arabs also comprise some of Israel’s most economically disadvantaged communities. How do social and economic gaps between Israel’s Jewish majority and Arab minority affect Israeli society as a whole? What are some of the social, cultural and economic issues and policies that have emerged as majority-minority priorities in recent years? How have recent efforts to close these gaps been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis?
This monthly series will explore timely questions and offer beyond-the-headlines insights from leading figures from Israel’s Arab society. Although each event is a stand-alone program, we encourage you to participate in the series for a more in-depth experience. The first program will provide valuable foundational knowledge for the following three.
Join The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore and the Task Force, October-January on the second Tuesday of the month at 12:00pm EST
In mid-2020, the Diversity in Employment Department of Israel’s Civil Service Commission issued its “#Diversifying_Israeli_Civil_Service” Report, which reviews government employee diversity in 2019 and assesses the government’s progress toward its goals of increasing representation of Arab citizens, Israelis of Ethiopian descent, people with disabilities, and new immigrants. The Civil Service Commission is responsible for managing the employment of civil servants and setting them up for success.
The Commission, and thus the Government of Israel, have prioritized increasing diversity within their ranks. As Civil Service Commissioner Daniel Hershkowitz writes in the opening of the report:
“Employment diversity is of paramount value to ensure the professionalism and quality of the Civil Service. The COVID-19 crisis, which has plagued Israel and the entire world, has also sharpened the day-to-day challenge facing the Civil Service. To meet this challenge, we must ensure that the diverse voices that compose Israeli society are reflected in policy design and decision-making”.
In sum, diversity in the Civil Service is rising including the Arab representation rate, however these increases are uneven, with overrepresentation in some ministries and under—or even no representation in other ministries and in leadership positions. In 2019, Arabs comprised 12.2% of Civil Service employees. In addition, Arab women are under-represented overall.
Digital accessibility and inclusion has become an urgent priority over the COVID-19 crisis, with immediate implications for employment, education and day-to-day access to information, services and benefits. The issue is broad, spanning infrastructure and equipment gaps all the way through digital skills and accessibility, and has equally wide-ranging implications, from employment, education and day-to-day activity. Digitization has been a growing priority in Israel, for Arab society and as a whole, but like many things over the Coronavirus period, the need to reduce digital gaps became more urgent and apparent. In short, levels of resilience and capacity to function under quarantine continue to depend on digital access and inclusion.
This recording, from an August 24 Task Force Peer Zoom, offers an overview of digital gaps and their implications, and immediate actions that were taken to ensure day-to-day functioning. Speakers included, Asmaa Ghanayem, InnDigital Center, the author of the authoritative report on digital gaps for Arab society that was used by the Knesset Research and Information Center in July to issue its recommendations; Jesse Rosenblit, Digital Israel, gave an overview of the government’s platform for increasing digital literacy and services, and Hiba Iselah and Mira Zohar Seban, JDC-ELKA, shared steps to close immediate gaps in this period.
Recording begins after host's introduction with first speaker, Asmaa Ghanayem.
The rapid shift to remote working, learning, health and public services in Israel due to the Covid-19 crisis has placed renewed and urgent emphasis on digital accessibility and inclusion. Varying levels of access to internet infrastructure, equipment, culturally adapted content, and digital skills and literacy pose immediate and significant challenges for efforts to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the crisis.