Sikkuy-Aufoq is a shared Jewish and Arab nonprofit organization that works to advance equality and partnership between the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel – descendants of those who remained within the Israeli borders after the founding of the state in 1948 – and the country’s Jewish citizens. Since its founding in 1991, Sikkuy-Aufoq has sought to bring an end to the longstanding discrimination and ongoing inequality between these two groups and lay the foundation for a truly shared society.
We practice what we preach: Sikkuy-Aufoq is co-directed by Jews and Arabs and we are proud of our organizational model that features Jewish and Arab management and field staff at all levels. This model ensures equal and shared participation in the decision-making process within the organization and in all our activities. Sikkuy-Aufoq‘s board of directors has two co-chairs, Dr. Abed Kanaaneh and Michal Barak; the organization is managed by two co-executive directors, Raghad Jaraisy and Ofer Dagan; and the various departments and projects utilize the same model of joint management.
To advance our vision, we work with local Arab municipalities and the leadership of Arab society and engage in advocacy vis-à-vis government ministries, public bodies, the media, and the public at large, promoting policy change that will bring about full and substantive equality and a shared society. Our strategy is to educate and influence senior decision makers in the government and in the public and commercial sectors through professionally developed, data-driven, and practical recommendations for policy change.
A primary reason for the gaps between Arab and Jewish citizens is the unequal allocation of state resources, including budget allocations, land, and government services. At Sikkuy-Aufoq, we map the barriers in government ministries and in Arab local authorities that impede equitable allocation of state resources; we then publish policy recommendations for overcoming those barriers and engage in advocacy to promote policy change. In addition, we work with Arab local authorities to develop tools and provide professional guidance in support of local economic and urban development.
Our areas of work include planning and housing, public transportation in Arab towns (including in the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev), infrastructure, employment, and more. We were heavily involved in advocating for the historic December 2015 “Government Decision 922,” which aimed to equalize some of the state budget’s funding mechanisms for Arab citizens; this was the largest budget ever allocated to the Arab community in Israel. Today, we are intensively promoting Decision 922’s implementation in practice and promoting a follow-up plan to ensure additional budgets are allocated to close the ongoing gaps.
In addition to our efforts advancing material equality, we work to create a shared society and strengthen shared spaces that accord Arabs as well as Jews an equal place and a sense of belonging and acceptance. Segregation between Jews and Arabs remains the norm in Israel, perhaps most notably in housing and education. This segregation maintains a sense of alienation and mistrust between the two groups, exacerbated by the national conflict, which systematically increases anti-Arab prejudice and incitement.
Our goal is to ensure that Arab citizens feel at home in public spaces – public and cultural institutions, nature and leisure venues, workplaces, the health system, academic institutions, public transportation – not only as individuals but as part of a collective, without feeling they must hide who they are or change their identity and appearance. To this end, we advance greater status for the Arabic language and Arab culture and promote real change in both the public square and public awareness. Given the importance of the press in shaping people’s perceptions and knowledge, we advocate for increasing and improving the representation and coverage of Arab citizens and society in the Hebrew mass media. We also work to make education for a shared society an integral part of Israel’s educational system.
To achieve our goals and create a truly equal and shared society, we also work to educate and motivate the public at large and to shape public discourse through the media and digital spaces. These efforts are designed to promote a more equal public dialogue and to share Sikkuy-Aufoq’s accumulated professional knowledge in discussions about the Arab community in Israel. Against the backdrop of increasing incitement by politicians against Arab-Palestinian citizens, we at Sikkuy-Aufoq speak out clearly and emphatically to demand full and equal rights for Arab citizens and the Arab community. To deepen our influence and increase our efficiency we also use methodological procedures of projects’ evaluation and assessment. This contributes to developing an organizational culture of learning. For more details on Sikkuy-Aufoq’s approach and tools of evaluation and assessment – click here.
We are confident that the way to ensure a better future for all the citizens of this country lies in our ability to build a truly shared and equal society – and we believe it is in our power to do so.