If you can't see this newsletter properly click here

Sikkuy Newsletter



Dear Friends,

As we write this message we are challenged by another misguided and damaging effort by some members of the government to enact legislation that would discriminate against Arab citizens – this time in the field of housing.  The Minister of Finance, Yair Lapid, has proposed giving some first-time apartment buyers a significant price reduction by exempting them from paying the 18% VAT tax on the purchase of new apartments. Lapid proposes to create a two-tier system in which citizens who served in the army or completed national civilian service will receive the exemption on apartments costing up to $460,000 while the vast majority of Arab citizens - who are not drafted by the IDF and who do not do civilian service, would only get the tax break on apartments costing up to $270,000.  This law would also discriminate against Ultra-Orthodox Jews, new immigrants who arrived in Israel after army age and others. 

From Sikkuy’s point of view it is important to look at the broader picture and understand that discrimination against the Arab citizens in the field of housing has been going on since the establishment of Israel, leading to the continuing housing shortage for young Arab couples and families.

* Since 1948, not a single new Arab town has been established by the government (other than the towns in the Negev that were set up to house Arab Bedouin who were removed from their lands in the Negev).  During the same period, almost 700 new Jewish cities, towns and communities were developed with government funds.

* The government has made only negligible amounts of government owned land available for residential construction in Arab towns despite the fact that the government owns more than 90% of the land in Israel.
And when Arab citizens, facing the housing crunch, move into “Jewish” towns, they are often challenged by local Jewish politicians and rabbis who call upon local Jewish residents “not to rent or sell to Arabs”. What is Sikkuy doing about this?

* Sikkuy is working to advance completion of master plans in Arab towns that will enable property owners to secure building licenses.
* Sikkuy has also helped advance the successful preparation and completion of a government “tender” marketing public land for private residential construction in the Arab town of Sakhnin. This model will be applied to other Arab towns where the government has land.

*  Sikkuy completed two path-breaking policy papers with recommendations on the issues of land registration in the Arab towns and marketing of government land for residential housing in Arab towns – these are being used by Sikkuy’s Equality Policy Department as it advances policy change within the relevant government ministries.

Furthermore, leading Haaretz journalist, Meirav Arlosoroff has written extensively
on this and related issues  and in an article in Israel’s leading business newspaper, The Marker -  “Lapid continues to discriminate against the Arabs” with much of her reporting based on and giving credit to Sikkuy’s original and ground breaking work, research and policy papers.  The article demonstrates, with facts and data, the ongoing discrimination against Arab citizens in the allocation of government budgets and resources in areas ranging from land appropriations and public transportation to care for children at risk.  It is very significant that Israel’s leading business and financial newspaper has chosen to raise the issue of discrimination in the public discourse and successfully refuted many of the intentionally misleading and factually incorrect claims that the Arab citizens are at fault for their own lower socio-economic status.

We’d also like to share with you our recently completed in-depth research project, “Representation of Arab Citizens in the Institutions of Higher Education in Israel”
This research examines the presence of Arab citizens in the eight universities in Israel (Bar-Ilan University, University of Haifa, Tel Aviv University, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and The Open University). 
Sikkuy chose to research this topic because the fair and equal representation of the Arab citizens in the academic community and professions is a vital component to advancing equal employment opportunities in the private and public sector, to promoting social mobility and to fostering a shared society for Jews and Arabs.  This was a quantitative study that examined the representation of Arab citizens in four main areas:  the percentage of Arabs in degree-granting programs; the number of Arabs in teaching positions; the number of Arabs in the administrative staff; the number and percentage of Arabs on the university’s governing bodies.  In chapter four (page 34), the main findings are displayed.  The study found that Arabs comprise only 8.5% of the degree students in Israel, only 1.75% of the lecturers and professors, and less than 1% of the administrative staff.  Arabs comprise less than 2% of the governing bodies (board of trustees and board of directors).  Arab citizens comprise about 20% of Israel’s population.
While the numbers of degree students is significant and growing, the overall picture is disappointing, especially when considering that the academic institutions should be in the forefront of advancing equality for Arab citizens.  In our recommendations, we called upon the council of higher education and the presidents of the universities to make a new and concerted effort to substantially increase the overall representation of Arab citizens in their institutions at all levels.
We hope you’ll get a chance to review the entire report.  If you’d like a hard copy, please write to: carl@sikkuy.org.il

We would like to extend our sincerest thanks and appreciation to the Pears Foundation (U.K.) for their generous support that allowed us to complete this important research project. Its findings are now being used extensively in a project to advance the presence of Arabs and Arabic in Israel’s universities led by
Dirasat - Arab Center for Law and Policy along with Sikkuy and the Van Leer Jerusalem InstituteThis project, funded by the European Union, will work to advance the presence of Arabic and Arab culture on the campuses in both the academic sphere and in the day to day student life.
We thank you, our friends and supporters, who continue to make our work possible with your moral commitment and financial support.
               Co-Executive Directors

Jabir Asaqla                  Ron Gerlitz
jabir@sikkuy.org.il        ron@sikkuy.org.il


Dear Sikkuy Friends,

We were very pleased to have so many responses to our last newsletter.  We appreciate your thoughts, ideas, comments and suggestions.

So with our goal to send a newsletter 5-6 times annually, here’s our latest report on developments and activities at Sikkuy (please review Jabir and Ron’s letter on the right).

In addition, we are beginning to make plans for a speaking and meetings visit to North America (possibly Europe too) for Ron and Jabir in early November 2014.  Please be in touch if you have suggestions for venues or meetings.

Carl Perkal
Director of Resource Development

If you wish to unsubscribe click here
This newsletter was generated on Altro