In an effort to promote shared society between Jews and Arabs in Israel, the New Israel Fund has been on the cutting edge of efforts to promote the values of human rights, democracy and religious freedom in Israel. On Tuesday night in Minneapolis, meet the leaders of Sikkuy, an organization that works towards equality and shared society in Israel.
Ron Gerlitz and Rawnak Natour, the co-executive directors of Sikkuy – The Association for the Advancement of Civil Equality, will be at the Sabes JCC from 7:30-9 p.m. for the event “Shared Society in Israel: Challenges and Opportunities in the Struggle for Equality.”
Alongside increasing incitement against Arab citizens of Israel in the public space, social media and from extreme politicians, a new government plan promises the possibility of equal funding for Arab citizens. How do these contradictory phenomena exist side-by-side? Which trend will have the upper hand? Beneath the surface, progressive Israelis and civil society organizations are hard at work advancing the vision of a shared, equal and democratic Israel.
Sikkuy is a civil society organization shared by Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel. Sikkuy works to advance equality and shared society through the cooperative efforts of its Jewish and Arab staff members who reflect the many different Jewish and Arab narratives present in Israel. Founded in 1991, Sikkuy’s mission is to promote full equality in all fields and on all levels between the Arab-Palestinian citizens and Jewish citizens of Israel. It has a shared Jewish and Arab board of directors, co-chairs, co-executive directors and staff.
Gerlitz joined Sikkuy as co-executive director in January 2009. In this capacity, he led the development of the Sikkuy model for mapping the barriers to equality and creating policy recommendations. Ron is an expert on Jewish-Arab relations in Israel and frequently writes op-eds in Hebrew, English and Arabic about the status of relations between the Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel and between the Arab citizens and the state.
Natour was born in the Israeli-Arab town of Kalanswa in the Triangle district of Israel. She received her BA in community social work and MA in early childhood education from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. For a number of years Rawnak worked on the New Israel Fund’s Shatil team where she worked to advance equal rights in Israel and coordinated a project for special education for the Arab community. Through over 20 years in the fields in social activism and human and civil rights, she led, managed and participated in projects to advance equal rights in employment, education and against discrimination.
The New Israel Fund is the leading organization advancing and defending democracy in Israel. Widely credited with building Israeli progressive civil society, NIF has provided hundreds of millions of dollars since the organization was founded in 1979.
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