The Inter-Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues raises awareness and ensures North American Jewish communities have access to trusted learning opportunities about Arab citizens of Israel and Jewish-Arab relations. Today, the Task Force convenes more than 100 North American Jewish organizations and foundations committed to learning and educating about what is often described by Israeli government officials as the most important domestic issue in Israel today. We serve as a non-partisan resource, providing a range of programs and materials to enable Jewish leadership to incorporate these issues in a manner appropriate and relevant to their mission, board members, professional staff, and constituencies.
Israel’s Arab citizens comprise approximately 20 percent of the population, or 1.8 million people: Muslim, Christian, Druze and Circassian. As a group, they share national and familial connections to the Palestinian people in the West Bank, Gaza and elsewhere, but have a unique identity as citizens of Israel alongside the country’s Jewish majority. Jewish-Arab relations within Israel fluctuate, but in recent decades there has been a steady increase in efforts by Arab society and the Israeli government to improve Arab socio-economic status and Jewish-Arab cooperation, recognizing the benefits both to this population and the country as a whole.
But challenges to accomplishing this are high. Fear and mistrust between the communities rises with escalations in the wider conflict across the border and the status of political discourse. Vast socio-economic gaps render Arab citizens the most disadvantaged group in Israel. Finally, most Arabs and Jews have few opportunities for meaningful interactions and mutual familiarity. In recent years, efforts to address these gaps have accelerated, resulting in ground-breaking developments in employment, higher education and other areas. The progress and the efforts to overcome barriers are among the most compelling and dynamic developments in Israeli society.
For North American Jewish communities, where discourse about Israel has become polarized, the Task Force offers a more nuanced view into Israel’s complex and ever-changing realities.
Programs and Resources
With a vast network of experts and leaders in the field, the Task Force provides updates on the latest social change developments and ‘behind the headlines’ insights available and accessible to North American communities via:
• Briefing papers and updates
• Events and briefing calls with expert speakers
• Panels and speakers for major conferences
• In-depth educational forum for funders
• Site visits on missions
• Training for Israel educators
The Task Force was established in 2006 by a coalition of Jewish organizations: The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Anti-Defamation League, UJA-Federation of New York, New Israel Fund, the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, and the Caroline and Brian Lurie Philanthropic Fund.