2009 was a year of intensive activity and achievement for Sikkuy. We continued our work for equality at three levels: vis a vis the government advocating for policy change, at the regional level working with Arab and Jewish municipalities to implement equality at the regional level and at the grassroots level activating Jewish and Arab citizens to work for equality and leadership development.
In November we were proud to publish the third Sikkuy Equality Index (2008), our flagship report that uses government supplied date to monitor and quantify equality/inequality between Jewish and Arab citizens in five key areas: Health, Education, Housing, Employment and Social Welfare.
Unfortunately, the 2008 Equality Index demonstrates that the status of equality between the Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel has not shown any marked improvement. In fact, in many areas, it has worsened, with the Arab citizens falling farther behind in many measurable standard of quality of life, access to government funding and resources, employment, health etc.
Despite this, some indicators give us cause for optimism such as the continuing increase in the percentage of Arabs employed in the civil service (6.7% in 2008 comparable to 5% in 2003) and a measurable drop in the level of Arab poverty in 2009 (49.4% poverty among families in 2008 vs. 54% in 2006). And while the new government in Israel has failed to explicitly support equality, the ministries that Sikkuy is working with (see item #2 below) continue to cooperate with us at the level of the senior management and staff.
With this in mind, Sikkuy has redoubled its efforts in recent months to increase its impact on government policy and on public opinion.
We would like to share some of those activities with you:
1. Publication of the 2008 Equality Index at a press conference held on November 18, 2009. This is the third index quantifying the gaps between Jewish and Arab citizens in the fields of education, welfare, health, employment and housing. The bottom line is that the gaps in favor of the Jewish citizens increased by 5% over the last two years.
The 2008 Index indicates that the gaps between Arabs and Jews have widened in the last two years in four of the five above-mentioned fields. The single exception was in education. The index and its findings were extensively covered in the Israeli media. You can take a look at previous indexes at The Sikkuy Reports
and see an article published in the Jerusalem Post about the new index: NGO's Jewish-Arab index: socioeconomic gaps growing
2. In August and October 2009, Sikkuy's equality policy department facilitated the inaugural meetings of the joint government-Arab municipalities working groups to advance cooperative efforts for identifying and eliminating the barriers to equal resource allocation by government ministries to Arab municipalities and citizens.
3. In November 2009 Sikkuy launched the first course to train Arab women for positions as board members of government owned corporations. Sikkuy sees increasing the number of Arab women in these positions as an important step to advancing their inclusion in the decision making process in Israel and to advancing increased employment of Arab women in the very substantial government-owned business sector. Once the course is concluded, Sikkuy will continue to assist the women in submitting their candidacy as directors.
4. Visit to the European Union headquarters in Brussels - We were invited to present the findings of the Equality Index to members of the European Commission and Parliament in Belgium as part of our long-term cooperation with and support from the EU. The visit was very successful and we expect to be invited back during 2010.
We hope you'll also take a look at a few recent Op-Ed articles published in the major media in Israel in our ongoing efforts to have a positive impact on public opinion.
As we begin a new year and a new decade, we look back to 2009 as a very challenging year both politically and financially and would like to express our deepest thanks and appreciation to all of our supporters in Israel and abroad for their vital assistance to our efforts to advance equality between the Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel.
For those of you interested in making an additional (or first time) donation to Sikkuy, please don't hesitate to be in touch with our director of resource development, Carl Perkal (email@example.com
We look forward to seeing you in Israel or abroad during 2010 and send our best wishes to everyone for a happy and fruitful new year.
Ali Haider and Ron Gerlitz