Sikkuy's new Equality Zones project, funded by USAID, grew out of the Jewish-Arab Mayor's Forum, which is described in this short film.
Building on the successes and lessons learned from Israel's first-ever Jewish-Arab Mayors Forum (JAMFI), established and directed by Sikkuy between 2004-2010, the Equality Zones project is designed to advance sustainable cooperation based on equal allocation of regional resources for the benefit of all citizens of the region.
As we know, despite the close proximity of many Jewish and Arab municipalities in a number of regions of the country, there is little cooperation between Jewish and Arab communities on either the local or regional levels. Following the recent successes in Wadi Ara and on the Carmel Coast, two additional areas will be targeted for intervention over the course of the project. Jewish and Arab mayors and their professional staffs will be recruited to a series of on-going sessions, designed to determine and develop a shared agenda for mutually-beneficial local and regional development. In February 2012 the Southern Triangle was identified as the first Equality Zone region.
Success of the Equality Zones project will be measured by a variety of quantitative and qualitative indicators including, for example: formal agreements on joint regional projects; the creation of shared infrastructures in the realms of transportation, industry, and tourism; activities that will increase Jewish presence in Arab towns and Arab presence in Jewish towns; small business opportunities; increased employment opportunities for Arab women; and the increased participation of Arab people and communities in statutory government frameworks, such as local planning committees. Project activities will work to ensure visibility and long-lasting impact on both local and regional levels.
Sikkuy believes that cooperation between the Arab and Jewish municipalities for economic development, joint infrastructure expansion, tourism, shared land use, environmental protection, advanced shared industry, and other potential areas of growth, will benefit both Arab and Jewish citizens and create a positive dynamic for advancing civic equality and shared citizenship in Israel.