Over twenty representatives from the British Jewish community participated in a high-level study trip from 7-11 February 2016 exploring issues relating to Arab citizens of Israel in the Wadi Ara – Israel’s “Little Triangle” region. Delegates toured Kafr Qara, Baqa al-Gharbiyye, Umm el-Fahem, and Haifa, visiting projects and engaging with leading representatives within the Arab community, the public sector, and civil society spheres.
Led by Co-Chair of the UK Task Force, UJIA Chief Executive Michael Wegier, and UK Task Force Director Toni Rickenback, the delegation included senior figures in British Jewry, including religious, political, and youth leaders, as well as representatives of charitable foundations.
This year’s trip was based in the Wadi Ara, a 20-kilometre valley in the Haifa district of northern Israel located directly northwest of the Green Line. The Wadi Ara is mainly populated by Muslim Arab citizens of Israel, but there are also Jewish communities in the area. Participants experienced an active on-the-ground learning experience and met with a range of Israeli political and government figures, civil society representatives and academics working to reduce inequality and improve Jewish-Arab relations in Israel.
The delegation met with senior Israeli officials, including: Emi Palmor, Director-General of the Ministry of Justice; Mariam Kabaha, the National Commissioner at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Professor Sammi Samooha from Haifa University. The group learned about plans to create employment opportunities for Arab citizens of Israel in the hi-tech industry and public sector, about educational challenges and the role of government, civil society, and communities in meeting the needs of Israel’s Arab Citizens.
The trip was closed by David Quarrey British Ambassador to Israel, at a lunch hosted at his residency, complimenting the participants for their interest in the Israeli society.
Speaking after the study trip, Toni Rickenback, Director of the UK Task Force said, “I was inspired to meet Israelis, both Arabs and Jews, who are working to create a more equal and inclusive Israeli society. We saw on this trip some of the most novel and creative solutions to the educational, cultural, and economic challenges Israeli society is facing, and I am already looking forward to next year’s trip”.
On the impact of the study trip, Ari Jesner, Chief Executive, Office of the Chief Rabbi said, “I was deeply impressed and moved by the individuals we met, both Israeli Arabs and Jews, each in their own way working to engineer positive change. Each is a real force of nature. They have identified certain problems and have taken it upon themselves to tackle those issues and create a better society for all Israeli citizens.”
On the impact of the study trip, Eli Gaventa, Mazkir of Sinai youth movement said, ” The UK Task Force study trip was truly engaging and educational. The programming was executed flawlessly and it was a tremendous opportunity to meet so many engaging individuals and inspiring NGOs… what struck me most was the resilience many of those working to promote equality in the region. I was privileged to capture a few images as a memento of the trip that I think tell an interesting story.”
Download the study trip briefing pack below