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Friday, 13 June 2014

Zionist Federation move signals new approach on Arab Israelis

The Zionist Federation has agreed to join a group which promotes Israeli Arabs’ concerns in a move that it says marks a new approach to working with minorities in Israel.

The decision to affiliate with the UK Task Force was ratified by ZF board members this week.

ZF chairman Paul Charney said his organisation must adopt a more honest and effective way of talking about Israeli Arabs and reflecting British Jews’ concerns.

The UK Task Force is a coalition of groups which works to raise awareness of issues affecting Arab citizens of Israel. It runs trips promoting educational and economic equality.

Mr Charney said: “Prejudice and barriers do exist against Arabs, leading to a situation where minorities are consistently over-represented at the bottom of any kind of social-economic analysis. There is nothing to be afraid of in admitting this.

“This is a reality that the UK Task Force understands and is working hard to tackle. Unlike some organisations, which appear to be concerned with highlighting Israel’s flaws in order to inflate their sense of moral self-worth, the UK Task Force’s only concern is the genuine betterment of the situation. The ZF is delighted to join them in this cause.”

Toni Rickenback, UK Task Force director, said: “We hope to hold events jointly with the ZF to educate and engage the Jewish community, as well as facilitating partnerships to advance the opportunities of Israel’s Arab minority.”

A number of Jewish community organisations already support the Task Force. More than 30 representatives of groups including Bnei Akiva, the United Synagogue, Bicom, the UJIA and the New Israel Fund visited Arab towns and cities in Israel last month.

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