The European Association of Israeli Studies held its 5th Annual Conference on Israel Studies in early
September 2016. The many speakers at the conference came from diverse backgrounds and discussed a wide range of perspectives of Israeli society.
Professor Ruth Gavison gave the opening keynote lecture in which she debated Israel’s identity. Taking the Declaration of Independence as her starting point, she refuted the claim that as Israel becomes more democratic it does not indicate it becoming less Jewish. “The state is the tool to promote the task of caring for its population, and democracy is the key to fulfil this task.” Discussing policy and identity, Prof. Gavison said, “There must be a shared ideal in the state for minority groups to enact change peacefully.”
Two lectures, presented in a different session by Arab women scholars indicated the rise of an Arab middle class in Israeli society:
Dr. Fahima Abbas from the Truman Research institute gave a lecture about the integration of Arab citizens of Israel in the metropolitan areas of Tel Aviv and Haifa. By examining two main social phenomena among Israeli Arabs: commuting and immigrating to the big cities, she claimed that result in the rise of an Arab middle class that has the means to break through economic and cultural barriers in Israel.
Besan (Rawan) Majadly from Tel Aviv University presented the changes in the Arab education system during the last decade in the light of the growth of elitist Islamic high schools in the Triangle area. These schools foster traditional values with much emphasis on excellence and maximizing grades and education achievements above all. The main conclusion of her research presented this development as one of the major changes happening within the Muslim population and creating an Arab middle class in Israel.
For more details visit the conference webpage here