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Sikkuy Newsletter
April 10, 2014

Dear Friends,

There’s so much to report that we’ll make every effort to be concise while providing you with links for more information and food for thought.

This is our second project funded by  with a three-year grant of almost $1,000,000. The innovative project will work in two regions in central and northern Israel to encourage local entrepreneurs and NGOs to develop tourism infrastructure, initiatives and businesses in Arab towns, advocate for equal government tourism-development funding for the participating Arab communities and facilitate the development of two shared Jewish-Arab tourism non-profit organizations.  The project is based on more than a decade of experience with similar (but more modest) efforts in Wadi Ara, the Triangle, Jisr a Zarqa and in the Galilee. As a result of the project’s work thousands of tourists from Israel and abroad will visit Arab communities in Israel.  We view tourism development in the Arab communities as a winning strategy that will advance equality, economic development and shared society in Israel.

USAID staff meet with tourism entrepreneurs Wadi Ara

The conference concluded a two-year Sikkuy-Injaz project funded by the European Union along with additional generous support, for which we are very grateful, from other key friends of Sikkuy and Injaz including: The Moriah Fund, The Jewish Federations of North America – Social Venture Fund for Jewish-Arab Equality and Shared Society, The UJA of New York, FOHS FOUNDATION, Bob and Doris Gordon, Alan B. Slifka Foundation, Mori and Doris Arkin, Lois and Irving Blum Foundation.


The conference demonstrated, once again, Sikkuy’s success in bringing together, around one table, senior government representatives and Arab mayors to advance cooperative efforts to achieve equal allocations of government resources and budgets to Arab citizens.

The conference marked the publication of the path breaking Sikkuy-Injaz policy research/recommendations “Funding and Income Sources for Arab Local Authorities”.
The research refutes the widely-held misconception that low tax collection rates by Arab municipalities are the major cause of budget disparities between Arab and Jewish municipalities. Instead we found that the key factor causing the low income and very limited funding sources of the Arab municipalities when compared to neighboring Jewish towns, is the extremely limited base of non-residential tax-paying properties (commercial and governmental) within the Arab towns. This is the result of successive government’s failure to develop commercial and industrial zones in the Arab localities and the failure to locate large government facilities in Arab towns.
We maintain that blaming the Arab municipal leaders as the ones primarily responsible for the budget inequalities constitutes not only a mistaken policy analysis but is an example of victim blaming that should be rejected. As you can see in the
news report about the conference run in Israel’s major financial newspaper, speaking at the conference, the deputy director of budgets in the Ministry of Finance said that the ministry would consider a proposal to create a central fund that would distribute the government’s local property tax payments on an equal basis to towns regardless of where the government offices are actually located.  This would be a first step in correcting the current situation in which Arab towns and cities remain in perpetual financial dire straits due largely to their lack of tax-generating properties.

The conference was broadly covered in the Hebrew as well as the Arabic language media in Israel demonstrating how important this topic is to the Arab public in Israel.

Following the conference and the publication of the research, Sikkuy and Injaz will continue to advance strategies to implement the recommendations that will, over time, substantially increase the financial resources available to Arab municipalities and local councils.  This will go a long way to increasing the level of services and facilities that the Arab towns will be able to provide to their residents and achieve equality of resources and services between Jewish and Arab towns.


Sikkuy’s staff, including its co-executive directors, is active in the public space, writing and speaking out on behalf of equality and shared society. Their articles gain wide audiences in the Hebrew, Arabic and English traditional and new media.  We’d like to share with you a few recent examples:

Ron Gerlitz and Jabir Asaqla, Haaretz, 2.10.13
Ten years after report on October 2000 riots, in which 13 were killed, the state has failed to implement antidiscrimination measures that would reestablish just relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel.
Ron Gerlitz, The Times of Israel, 4.02.14
In this comprehensive article Ron presents his analysis that there are contradictory trends in the relations between the Jewish and Arab citizens and suggests that the negative forces and attacks on Arab citizens are a result of and a response to the increased strength of Arab society and to the beginnings of its integration into the centers of power, the economy, and society in Israel.

Chassia Chomski-Porat and Azar Dakwar, Haaretz, 28.02.14The co-directors of Sikkuy’s Shared Public Space project propose that adding a new category for a literary work in Arabic to the Sapir prize would be a step toward expanding Israel's literary space so that it includes everyone.
Khalil Mari and Ronen Sabag, 972+, 23.07.13
Shared industrial parks have the potential to create local and regional growth engines that would allow Arab towns and Israel’s Arab citizens to achieve economic stability and provide a better future for the younger generation. Israel’s leadership must realize that this is not something to be taken for granted.
Ron Gerlitz, 972+, 28.03.14
Of late, not a week has gone by without a senior Israeli government official or politician proposing to strip Israel’s Arab citizens of yet another basic civil right.
And finally Sikkuy was cited in The Marker list of promising young public servants in Israel - http://bit.ly/1lDNB1x
Of course, we’ll be happy to hear back from you with comments or questions.

With holiday greetings to all of our friends,

Jabir Asaqla and Ron Gerlitz
Co-Executive Directors

Dear Sikkuy Friends,

2014 took off for Sikkuy like a rocket.
New projects, new staff members and some very significant achievements (please read Ron and Jabir’s letter on the right).
Sikkuy’s co-executive director, Jabir Asaqla made time for a quick visit to the USA where he was invited to speak at the “4th Annual Community Day of Education on Israeli Arab Issues” sponsored by the "Greater Washington Forum on Israeli Arabs".
Jabir made use of the time to meet with old friends and veteran supporters while also making new contacts for Sikkuy that are very relevant to advancing our work.


Jabir (left) briefs JStreet’s President Jeremy Ben Ami and staff in Washington D.C
We also went online with our new upgraded website (be sure to visit:  www.sikkuy.org.il) and new Facebook page in Hebrew and Arabic
Finally, we are now beginning to think about a visit to North America by Ron and Jabir in October/November so if you have any thoughts about meetings, public speaking events or other venues, I’ll be happy to hear back from you.
As always, we are grateful for your continued commitment and support.

Best wishes,

Carl Perkal
Director of Resource Development
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