We need the Abraham Fund now more than ever

This is a guest post by Stephen Hoffman

As a Zionist I have always believed in the ideals outlined in Israel’s declaration of Independence – that Israel should be a Jewish and democratic state, with the rights of minorities protected and discrimination against them outlawed both in law and practice.  Due to this I am a strong supporter of The Abraham Fund (TAFI) who aim to bring about a shared future for Israel’s Arab and Jewish citizens. TAFI has been doing great work since 1989 in integrating Israeli Arabs into Israeli society in areas like employment and education, whilst working to bring Jewish and Arab communities closer together. Over the last six months through my involvement with the Young UK Abraham Fund(Young TAFI UK) I have been delighted to support the excellent work of TAFI.

As part of matched giving, all donations from Thursday December 4th from 10am onwards will be tripled. However, much you give will make a real difference to projects that are playing a major part in making Israeli Arabs feel part of Israeli society, rather than them being ostracised. You will be supporting projects TAFI is involved in with 5th/6th grade school students to improve their Hebrew spoken skills. This will give them a greater understanding of the Jewish community in Israel and promote the ideals of coexistence by increasing interaction between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs. What’s more, projects like this help break perceptions in some parts of Israeli Jewish communities that Israeli Arabs are people to be feared. This is because those teaching Hebrew to Arab school pupils will be taught by Jewish, native Hebrew teachers who will be able to be cultural ambassadors for coexistence and understanding. You can give to TAFI HERE.

So why is the work TAFI does now more important than ever? Unfortunately, in the last few weeks the divide between Israeli Arabs and Jews has got wider than ever, leading to violent clashes across Israel. The social divides have led the Israeli President, Reuven Rivilin, to say that Israeli society is sick. In recent months, rather than accepting the other, Israelis, whether they are Jewish or Arab, have chosen the language of hate. It has led to arsonists setting textbooks ablaze in the classroom of a Hand in Hand Bilingual school in Jerusalem that served as a model of coexistence. It has led to hot-headed statements from people who should know better, including from the mayor of Ashkelon stating that Arab workers constructing bomb shelters in the city’s kindergartens should be moved out of the sites. This is not to ignore the fact that some of the vile terror attacks have been supported by a minority of the Israeli Arab community, but let’s not forget that over 60% of Israeli Arabs, according to a recent poll by the Jerusalem Post, oppose terrorist attacks. It is therefore disgraceful that a minority of Israeli Jews are treating all Israeli Arabs as if they are enemies of the state.

This is something you would have expected an Israeli Government to stamp out, but in many ways it has done exactly the opposite. The Nation State Bill that has been championed by Binyamin Netanyahu weakens the democratic part of the Jewish State of Israel in ways that would undermine the rights of minorities, including Israeli Arabs.

However, there is a ray of hope thanks to civil society organisations like TAFI. Before TAFI stepped up to the plate, the problems many Israeli Arabs faced in getting into the Israeli workforce were ignored. There was a feeling at national and local government level that it was impossible to get Israeli Arab women into work and therefore they would be stuck with a life of poverty.  Yet through the program Partners for Life many more Israeli Arabs women have been integrated into the Israeli workforce, although more of course needs to be done. This is just one example of the work TAFI does to make Israel the light upon the nations that is part of its founding mission.

TAFI needs your support more than ever, so please do give generously and help Israel become the society envisaged in the declaration of independence. HERE is the link again.