Integrating Israel's Arab citizens into the ISRAEL 15 Vision
This document deals with the challenge of socially and economically integrating Israel's Arab citizens in order to generate a socio-economic leapfrog that will place Israel among the leading 15 nations in the world in terms of quality of life. The document illustrates the importance of integration, touches on basic gaps in current government policies, and presents a new look at the government's role and areas in which it needs to design policies.
The integration of its Arab citizens is critical for the State of Israel. On the one hand, such integration constitutes an essential condition for a socio-economic leapfrog. On the other hand, it is likely to defer trends of separatism and alienation between the Arab minority and the state. Nonetheless, it is clear that a significant improvement in the Arab sector's quality of life will not 'solve' the complex relations between the Arab minority and the state.
In recent years, many plans which deal with closing the gaps between the Jewish and Arab sectors have been published, and it seems that the government has indeed taken a significant step in this direction.
However, although these plans carry the potential to significantly contribute to the Arab sector's socio-economic development; it is unlikely they can reduce the gaps in quality of life between Israeli Jews and Arabs or to drastically increase economic integration within Israel. This is mainly due to the fact that these plans do not provide an appropriate solution to:
Communal Obstacles within Arab Society which represent a serious restriction on the Arab sector's economic development and its integration into the Israeli economy.
Inherent and Structural Distrust of Arab Society towards the Government which is one of the main obstacles towards implementing effective government policies.
Without overcoming these obstacles, a socio-economic leapfrog among Israel's Arab citizens will not be possible.
Effective government policies should not only include 'traditional' government actions which aim at 'affirmative action' and equal opportunities, but also additional measures that promote mechanisms that encourage growth in the Arab sector and prepare the ground for deepening cross-sector economic and business relations.