If you can't see this newsletter properly click here

Sikkuy Newsletter
 No. 3/14
September 23, 2014

Dear Friends,

We are writing to you after the latest round of armed conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza.  At this time the cease-fire that is being maintained both by Hamas and Israel. We express our hope that leaders on both sides will advance a process that will lead to long-term security and a just and lasting political solution to the conflict.

As a shared Jewish-Arab organization working to advance equality between the Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel, Sikkuy did not have a specific role to play concerning the war as did some NGO’s in Israel that deal directly with the cross-border conflict as part of their organizational mandate.  Having said that, it is clear that in an organization like Sikkuy, shared as it is equally by Arab and Jewish board, management and staff, the conflict generated tensions and challenges within the organization.

It is important to stress that the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel are connected by their identity as well as social and family ties to their Palestinian brethren in Gaza who were under attack and in which thousands were wounded and killed.  And within Sikkuy, there are also Jewish staff members who were worried about family and friends living in the south of the country near Gaza who were under attack by Hamas and some who serve in the IDF in reserve units. Despite these challenges and because Sikkuy maintains a constant dialogue at all levels between its Arab and Jewish members, we were able to continue our work based on substantive cooperation between the Jewish and Arab staff members.

Sikkuy staff meeting during the war

Looking to the wider picture in Israel during the war and in its aftermath, we are facing increased polarization of relations between the Jewish and Arab citizens on the background of public expressions of racism and attacks on Arab citizens by Jews. This is particularly evident as Jewish voices against Arab citizens in the public and political space have increased beyond anything ever seen before in Israel. We are concerned that verbal attacks in the general media, the social media and in direct attacks on Arab citizens in the public spaces such as malls, public transportation etc. are going largely unchallenged by the political leadership.
We suggest that you read Ron’s comprehensive analysis of the situation in his article:
Furthermore, we cannot remain silent in the face of dismissals from their jobs of Arab citizens for expressing their political opinions in public and in the social media. We are also deeply concerned (and are planning counter-actions) at the various attempts to forbid the use of spoken Arabic in the public space such as in the Western Galilee Hospital and new laws being proposed to rescind the status of Arabic as an official language in Israel.
Sikkuy along with our partner civil society organizations is working intensively to counter these phenomena that threaten the basic fabric of relations between the Arab and jewish citizens. based on shared citizenship and equality.
These actions include:

- During the war Sikkuy maintained a very high profile in the traditional and new media. Sikkuy’s co-executive directors spoke out publicly against incitement and racism against the Arab citizens and on the vital need to maintain and strengthen shared society at this time.

- Sikkuy is an active member of the Shutafut-Sharakah coalition for shared, democratic and equal society -
http://www.shutafut-sharakah.org.il/en/-   The coalition just inaugurated the Kifaya website  -www.kifaya.org.il  that enables citizens to report and locate specific instances of racism and anti-Arab actions in Israel.   

- Sikkuy was a co-signer of a public statement by a large group of civil society organizations calling on the government of Israel to work for an immediate end to the fighting in Gaza, opening a track for a diplomatic solution and to actively work against the incitement and racism directed against Arab citizens.See also the English version:

- Sikkuy has appealed to the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) to intervene against businesses that are firing Arab employees simply because they are Arabs.

- Along with The Abraham Fund Initiatives and other partner organizations including  Mossawa, Kav Mashve and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, we are advancing an emergency imitative with the New Israel Fund to speak out forcefully in the media against racism.

- Sikkuy and Marvad Yarok (the Arab-Jewish tourism NGO in Wadi Ara that Sikkuy helped found) were active participants in “Neighbors at Peace” an important initiative of Givat Haviva in which hundreds of Jews and Arabs in Wadi Ara demonstrated together for peace and shared society every Friday during the war.

All of Sikkuy’s activities and projects have developed additional urgent agendas to cope with the challenges mentioned above and will be adding those activities to the ongoing work we do. 
Just last week, the shared Jewish-Arab tourism forums that Sikkuy is advancing in three regions (funded by USAID) in central and northern Israel met for a day-long conference which included a working visit to Akko.

Sikkuy's Jewish-Arab tourism forum meets in Akko
Another example is the new Sikkuy initiative:  “Education for Shared Society”.  This project will work directly vis a vis the Ministry of Education and the government to advance the implementation of a permanent long-term, universal curriculum advancing shared society in the educational system for both Jewish and Arab pupils as well as the broadening of Arabic language studies for Jewish students. 
We have already raised start-up funds for this new project and are busy seeking additional sources of support for this vital effort. Please let us know if you’d like to receive the full project proposal.
Indeed these are challenging times for us. We thank all of our friends for their continued support during these difficult days and commitment to advancing equality and shared society between the Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel – now more important than ever.
We look forward to seeing many of you during our visit to Baltimore, New York City, Pittsburgh and Washington D.C. from November 2-7.
With best wishes to all of our friends celebrating the upcoming holidays.
Jabir Asaqla (jabir@sikkuy.org.il) and Ron Gerlitz (ron@sikkuy.org.il)
Co-Executive Directors

Sikkuy: The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality (


Dear Sikkuy Friends,
This has been an extremely challenging summer for Sikkuy as well as Jewish-Arab relations in Israel. Jabir and Ron relate to this extensively in their letter, so please do read it and comment. 
We would like to extend a special thank you to all of our friends in Israel and abroad who were in touch to express their concern for the well-being of our staff, board and their families and to that of Sikkuy during the difficult days.
Also, we were all deeply gratified that many of our supporters “davka” made additional commitments of support for Sikkuy, in addition to their regular contributions during this time. We are grateful for this vote of confidence.

I want to let you know that Jabir and Ron will be making a visit to the USA from November 2-7.
In addition to providing an update about the challenges facing Jewish-Arab relations in Israel in the aftermath of the war, they will also be talking about how Sikkuy is developing and implementing new strategies to deal these challenges.

Their schedule:
November 3 – Washington D.C.
November 4 – New York City
November 5 – Baltimore
November 6 – New York City – Luncheon sponsored by the IATF
November 7 – New York City

We hope that those of you in Pittsburgh and New York will attend the events.  And for those of you who can’t but would like to meet with Ron and Jabir, please be in touch and I will do my best to set up a meeting.

This is also a good time to wish everyone celebrating, a happy Jewish New Year, “Shana Tova”  and a happy Eid al Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), “Eid Mubarak”.


Carl Perkal

Director of Resource Development –

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