UK Task Force study trip 2013
March 1, 2013
Over forty representatives from the UK’s Jewish community participated in a high-level study trip from 10-14 February exploring issues relating to Arab citizens of Israel living in mixed cities. Delegates toured Jaffa, Lod and Haifa, visiting projects and engaging with leading interlocutors within the Arab community, the public sector and civil society sphere.
Led by Co-Chairs of the UK Task Force, Pears Foundation Executive Chair Trevor Pears CMG and UJIA Chief Executive Michael Wegier, the delegation included senior figures in British Jewry, including religious, political and youth leaders, as well as charitable foundations.
The delegates were in Israel to visit Arab communities living in mixed cities, close to the country’s economic centres, to understand the main barriers to social integration and prosperity. 20% of Israel’s population is Arab but, according to a report published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in January 2010, 50% of the Arab population lives in poverty. Tensions between Jews and Arabs in mixed cities have, in recent years, spilled over into violence and the delegates were keen to learn about steps being taken to improve the situation, and meet Israeli partners, so they can engage on these issues on their return.
Participants experienced an active on-the-ground learning experience and met with a range of Israeli political figures, civil society representatives and academics working to reduce inequality and improve Jewish-Arab relations in Israel. Key speakers included: the Kadi of Jerusalem, Dr Iyad Zahalka, Aiman Seif, General Director of the Authority for the Economic Development of Minority Sectors in the Prime Minister’s Office and Rabbi David Rosen, former Chief Rabbi of Ireland and Director of the American Jewish Committee’s Department of Interreligious Affairs.
Speaking after the study visit, Trevor Pears and Michael Wegier, Co-Chairs, UK Task Force said:
“The breadth of participation on the UK Task Force 2013 study trip shows the importance the British Jewish community ascribes and the effort we are prepared to commit together to understanding what is unquestionably one of the most significant and complex challenges facing Israeli society today.”
UK Task Force website