August 6, 2014

Municipal and civil society responses to Jewish-Arab tensions – August 1-8

August 7th: Haifa against Racism and Violence – an Emergency Jewish-Arab Conference

A gathering of Jewish and Arab activists, academics and citizens from the city of Haifa will take place at Leo Baeck Education Center on August 7th in response to recent acts of violence against demonstrators, rise in racism and heightened Jewish-Arab tensions. The conference will include workshops towards a plan for reinstating equality and shared society in the city. See the Facebook invitation. (Hebrew and Arabic)

August 5th: Tel-Aviv-Jaffa Municipality’s Anti Incitement and Anti Racism Campaign 

 --On August 5th the Tel-Aviv-Jaffa Municipality launched an anti-incitement campaign by “posting a special sign in the city’s 440 bus stops calling on the public to promote tolerant discourse.” The white-on-black signs read “No to Incitement. No to harsh speech. No to Racism.” The municipality is also pushing this campaign on Facebook, encouraging people to make this poster their profile picture.


Mahapach Taghir

This Jewish-Arab grassroots organization issued the following statement:

The past weeks have been difficult for all of us, Jews and Palestinians: a violent war is being waged in Gaza, causing thousands of civilian casualties. The Israeli civilian population is also under threat, especially in the south. The war in Gaza has also brought about a rise in racism and violence inside Israel that is incited by the media and political leadership. Incidents of racist violence include physical and verbal attacks on Palestinian citizens of Israel and protesters against the war, job-loss among Palestinian and Jews who protest against the war, and many other forms of persecution.

At this moment we at Mahapach-Taghir feel that Jewish-Palestinian partnership and solidarity, our greatest values, are in jeopardy. As an organization doing grassroots work in both Jewish and Palestinian marginalized communities in Israel, we witness first-hand the pain of both populations.We, the Jewish and Palestinian men and women activists of Mahapach-Taghir, will not remain silent about this violence. We will promote our values of partnership and solidarity and oppose this violence between peoples. We will continue to work toward a world where human life is valued above all.

Despite the tense situation, Mahapach Taghir’s community in Florentine Tel Aviv, which includes both Jewish and Palestinian women, arranged an internal meeting of activists last week. With all that is happening in Gaza and the rise in violence against Palestinians inside Israel, the meeting was not easy. Discussion focused on how to maintain partnership and solidarity during these tense days and on ways for dealing with the violence inside Israel. By the end of the session the women were feeling grateful for the meeting, hugging each other and agreeing to continue working towards their shared interests. Similar meetings were held in our Tamra and Yaffat al Nassera communities, and a meeting is scheduled to take place in the Jerusalem community as well.

A Different Country (Eretz Acheret) Magazine

The New Israel Fund partnered with the independent internet magazine A Different Country” to dedicate the July issue to internal Jewish-Arab relations in Israel. The issue, Racism, Violence, Self Restraint and Path Finding,” [Hebrew] includes articles by Jewish and Arab writers, academics and public figures.

Respite for Bedouin children – Bina Center for Jewish Identity and Hebrew Culture:

Bina organized a number of respite days for Bedouin children from the south, during which they were able to go and get relief outside the danger zone.

Dismissal of Arab workers:
In recent weeks there have been a number of incidents in which Arab employees were fired from their jobs for stating their political beliefs or because of their Arab identity. A number of Israeli colleagues are addressing this problem:

  • Kav LaOved, The Association for Civil Rights, Women Lawyers for Social Justice, and Sikkuy-The Association for the Advancement of Civil Equality in Israel sent a joint letter to the Ministry of Economy and to the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity in Employment (EEOC) in which they ask these bodies for “immediate intervention to protect the rights of Arab workers in the labor market in Israel, and to defend their right to equality, employment, and freedom of expression.” Read the letter. 
  • Kav Laoved published a special “Know Your Rights Booklet” (together with Mosawa and Adallah), listing the rights of employees regarding issues related to freedom of speech. The booklet received hundreds of Facebook shares.
  • The Abraham Fund Initiatives sent a letter to the Manufacturers Association demanding that they publically condemn calls to boycott Arab businesses and the wrongful dismissal of Arab workers, and that they work to counter this trend. TAFI “called on the Association to speak up for Arab businesses. It cited a Globes poll showing that 67% of Israeli Jews planned to boycott Arab businesses.”

The Abraham Fund Initiatives held a special phone briefing by their Israeli staff to their board on the current situation between Jews and Arabs in Israel. You can listen to their phone briefing here.

Hand in Hand – Together we walk:

Hand in Hand hosted another family march in their “Together we Walksolidarity activities. These family marches will continue throughout the month of August every Sunday evening along the railroad track in Jerusalem. Read about this in the Times of Israel. 

Recommended Resources
Conference call: Current events and the role of civil society organizations in Israel

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