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Sikkuy Newsletter – 5/2015 July 30, 2015


Dear Sikkuy Friends,

I am happy to share this update along with our sincere thanks for your on-going partnership and support, without which none of the following would have been possible. 

We find ourselves in a complex period in the relations between the state and the Arab citizens.  On the one hand the government’s allocation of resources for economic development in the Arab communities continues and is succeeding in creating positive changes and reducing inequality in some areas.  But unfortunately, incitement against Arab citizens by certain members of the government continues. It is clear that there are forces in Israel working to advance shared society but also forces working to generate deterioration in relations between the Jewish and Arab citizens.

Notable recent accomplishments of Sikkuy

  • On June 9th, 2015 the “120 Days Committee”, established by the government in January to create a practical work-plan for solving the severe shortage of housing for Arab citizens and communities, released a report, in which some of its key policy recommendations were influenced by Sikkuy.  This is a very important report whose implementation can lead to unprecedented changes in the government’s housing policy toward the Arab citizens.
    The report confirmed many of Sikkuy’s findings and adopted many of Sikkuy’s recommendations – proof positive of Sikkuy’s impact on governmental policy. Sikkuy’s staff will continue to work intensively vis a vis the government to advance the report’s implementation.
  • Sikkuy succeeded in scaling its Shared Regional Tourism project (through the USAID-funded Equality Zones and Shared Regional Tourism projects) to four regions across the country and to create a tourism infrastructure in many Arab towns. It also brought about significant government investment in advertising to support the Ramadan shared tourism events.  This is an enormous achievement in a field that up until Sikkuy’s intervention had almost no government support.

Looking forward into the second half of 2015, Sikkuy will:

  • Hire a staff person for the new The Knesset Liaison Project, which will provide support and advice to new Arab Knesset Members to advance programs and policies for reducing inequality between Arab and Jewish citizens and communities. 
  • Launch a new intervention in the Negev, in cooperation with the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages (RCUV) and funded by the European Union, to improve realities for Arab Bedouin residents of the unrecognized and newly recognized villages in the Negev in the fields of public transportation and access to education.
  • Expand the Shared Public Space project to increase the visible media presence of Arab experts and personalities in leading radio/TV public affairs programs through advocacy, information sharing and public campaigns.

Project Updates

Equality Policy Department (EPD)

The overarching goal of Sikkuy’s Equality Policy Department is to reduce social and economic gaps between Jewish and Arab citizens and communities through policy change at the government level in the following fields and others.
Public Transportation in the Arab Communities - Sikkuy’s work contributed to a government decision to allocate 40% of the total budget for new public transportation services to Arab communities as a form of affirmative action.

Increasing job opportunities for Arab Citizens through government tenders – An important achievement was the first Sikkuy roundtable on June 24, 2015 in which representatives from the government and third sector came together to learn and strategize about how to advance policy change so that businesses receiving government contracts will increase their employment of Arabs. 

Fair Employment Representation - Important achievements have been made in the area of fair employment representation over the past six months, many led by Sikkuy and also in cooperation with other NGO partners.  Most notable, Sikkuy has become a very active primary strategic advisor to the government’s Economic Opportunity Commission, supporting their efforts to become an address for Arab citizens, who have among the highest unemployment rates in Israel.

Samah Elkhatib Ayoub (first on the right), Coordinator of Sikkuy’s Employment Equity and Fair Representation Project, facilitating a meeting of the EOC Forum on June 8, 2015.

Education for Shared Society (ESS)

The primary mission of this start-up initiative is to advance a major governmental policy change in the Ministry of Education so that “education for shared society” for Jewish and Arab students, as well as increased Arabic language studies for Jewish students, will be adopted as universal components of the core curriculum in schools throughout Israel.

June 2, 2015, The ESS project directors, Samah Salaime Agbaria (second from right) and Gili Re’i (second from left) discussing educational policy for shared society at a conference on education policy in Israel, held in honor of Dov Lautman, z”l.

Shared Public Space (SPS)

Sikkuy’s Shared Public Space project aims to increase the integration of Arab citizens’ culture, language and narratives into Israel's public space.

Two years ago the project set as one of its goals to secure electronic, visual and audible information services on all of the 360 public bus lines run by the Afifi Group. After two years of fruitless meetings with the company, Sikkuy initiated a petition by 14 civil society organizations along with a social media campaign accompanied by a humorous video (in Hebrew) to raise public awareness of the need for Arabic language information on public transportation.  And it worked. The Afifi Group has committed to install the appropriate Arabic language information services on all of its bus lines by the end of 2015!!!

In addition, Sikkuy is a partner with Dirasat and the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute in an initiative to increase the presence of Arab culture and narratives and the Arab language on Israel’s university campuses and to increase the number of Arab academic and administrative staff.  Senior faculty were enlisted and have formed internal forum to advance these goals along with an inter-university forum as well. Successful academic conferences in Arabic (with Hebrew translation) were convened in four major universities and we now work to increase the presence of Arabic in the campuses.

Shared Regional Tourism

This project, funded by USAID, focused during the first half of 2015 on capacity-building and the facilitation of Jewish-Arab shared tourism activities, including during Ramadan, in the four program regions, the Galilee, Wadi Ara and the “Triangle” (see Carl’s letter).

General Organizational Updates

In 2015, Sikkuy added four new board members (Michal Barak, Odeh Bisharat, Professor Amnon Caspi and Dr. Dalia Fadila) one to replace a board member who was elected to the Knesset (Dr. Yousef Jabareen), and the others to increase the size and effectiveness of the board.

Media Links

The following links are several English media items about recent Sikkuy work.  Many more English, Arabic and Hebrew media items are also available on Sikkuy’s website.  

As we notified you in the recent newsletter, we are very excited that Rawnak Natour, Sikkuy’s incoming co-executive director, will begin working in early September.

And of course, I invite you to be in touch with any questions or comments.


Ron Gerlitz
Co-Executive Director


Dear Friends,


I want to share with you my own excitement with the outstanding success this summer of the “Ramadan Nights” tours to Arab communities initiated by Sikkuy and developed and implemented by local Arab and Jewish citizens in four regions in the center and north of Israel.

More than 1,000 Jewish Israelis joined these paid tours which were led by Jewish and Arab tour guides. The tours began with late afternoon visits to Arab towns including Um Al Fahm, Kafr Qassem, Tira, Iksal and others, which for many of the Jewish participants was a first-time visit to these towns. 

Jewish visitors to Arab town for “Ramadan Nights” (photo by Ofer Vaknin - Haaretz)

There was extensive media coverage in Israel and abroad and here are just two examples that I hope you’ll have a chance to peruse.


Sikkuy’s co-executive directors, Rawnak Natour and Ron Gerlitz, will make a two-week visit to North America in October or November for speaking engagements, visits with Sikkuy supporters and meetings with potential supporters.  We expect their itinerary to include:  New York, Boston, Baltimore-Washington D.C. and Toronto.  So this is a good time to be in touch if you’d like to meet with them or to attend one of the public events they will be participating in.

As always we appreciate your continued commitment to and support for our work advancing equality between the Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel.


Carl Perkal
Director of Resource Development

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