Israel must do more to build a cohesive society for all its citizens, including minorities, or risk serious the possibility of civil strife.
That was the message from Mike Prashker, founder of the Israeli NGO Merchavim, at a panel discussion on “society-building” at the LJCC in London.
“I live 10 minutes from Bnei Brak [a Charedi neighbourhood near Tel Aviv], but it might as well be 10,000 miles away,” he said. “We have a situation were everyone is scared of somebody and no one thinks they’re frightening.”
Abbas Abbas, the director of a group promoting the interests of the disabled in the Israeli-Arab community, said better cultural and historical education for Arab children would make them more confident in their interactions with Jews and enhance co-operation.
He added: “If Jews had better knowledge about the Arab mentality, psychological barriers between the two peoples will be demolished.”
Also on the panel was Yael Kliger, a Charedi woman who set up a Facebook page with 10,000 members as a forum for dialogue between secular and Charedi Israelis, and Ethiopia-born academic Dr Simcha Getahune, who said she had faced discrimination when she first arrived in Israel in 1984, and felt a common cause with Arabs in Israel as a fellow minority group.