Noam Masorti Youth & UK Task Force E-Resources

Engage on issues relating to Israel's Arab minority|Educate on the diversity of Israeli society|Support Noam Masorti Youth's Israel education

Noam Masorti Youth & UK Task Force
Youth Movement E-Resources

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This e-resource has been developed by the UK Task Force in collaboration with Noam Masorti Youth, to give your bogrim and madrichim the information and tools they need to educate on issues relating to Arab citizens of Israel - a topic of vital importance to Israel's Jewish and democratic future.

The UK Task Force is a coalition of 39 Jewish organisations, including a range of youth movements, who share a commitment to achieving civic equality in Israel for Jews and Arabs alike - as stated in Israel's Declaration of Independence. We work to educate, engage, and empower the British Jewish community on issues relating to Arab citizens of Israel, and to facilitate partnerships to advance the opportunities of Israel's Arab minority.

The UK Task Force’s educational e-resources are generously supported by
Jewish Youth Fund

If you would like to learn more about the UK Task Force's educational work, please contact us at: To access more of our educational resources please visit:

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The Zionist vision was one of values. Beyond building a state for the Jewish people was the determination that we could finally achieve what we had sought for so long, a nation able to govern ourselves in accordance with our own values. Our ancestors had long placed ethical and moral values at the centre of our tradition, teaching that the “world stands on three pillars: Torah, Avoda, and Gemilut Hasadim” (Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers). The third of these, Gemilut Hasadim, meaning acts of loving kindness, has become a central pillar of Noam’s ideology. Embraced by the movement for the richness of its meaning, Gemilut Hasadim articulates the belief that any group or individual is capable of being a positive force in the world. In Israel’s treatment of her minorities, this principle of provides a litmus test: is this treatment the action of a nation led by kindness? Our modern democratic principles implore us to endow every individual with equal rights, and so to do our Jewish ethics, which suggest that each individual is made in the image of Hashem, regardless of religion or nationality.

These questions of minority treatment are not secondary. They go to the very essence of our national spirit. Israel’s identity cannot be found through study of Jewish values alone. Since 1948, we have had to ask ourselves a far more trying question. When the Jewish people are sovereign, when we have power, do we abandon our principles or do we embrace them? It is for this reason that the work of the UK Taskforce on Arab Citizens of Israel is so crucial. Vigilantly reminding us that the daily reality of life for Israel’s non-Jewish citizens is not just a sociological detail, rather it is the true test of our jewish character.

Notwithstanding the considerable benefits that Israeli-Arabs face, including economic and political conditions far greater than in many surrounding states, Israel all too often falls short in their treatment. They remain a disadvantaged minority, with vast economic and social barriers to personal or communal success. As a movement committed to building a more perfect Israel, that affirms our ability to achieve social change, Noam is proud to support the work of the UK Task Force.

Masorti Judaism and Noam are proud to be part of the UK Task Force coalition to strengthen education on issues relating to the Arab citizens of Israel.

Israel is both a Jewish state and one based on the universal values of equality and democracy. The fact that Israel has such a large non-Jewish minority compels us as Zionists to wrestle with the implication of this dual commitment. How can we build a society which is at once truly Jewish and authentically egalitarian and pluralistic?

As Masorti Jews, our religious identity is built on this healthy tension between universal and particularist values. We are resolutely committed to inclusion and diversity and believe in combatting discrimination and injustice. The Masorti movement and Noam exclaim within their Statement of Purpose that creating an ideal society is a key principle relating to our expression of Zioinism.

I hope this resource will help madrichim and educators in Noam and the wider Masorti movement contribute to this vital endeavour for the Jewish people, Israeli society and the wider world, to craft a society built on values of democracy and social justice.

Joel Fenster

Mazkir, Noam Masorti Youth
Joel Fenster

Matt Plen

CEO, Masorti Judaism
Matt Plen

Key Facts

The Arab Population of Israel

According to the most recent statistics, Israel's population is 20.7% Arab. Arabs are underrepresented in educational attainment and skilled employment, and overrepresented in poverty statistics.

Click on the icons below to explore issues relating to Arab citizens:

20.7% of Israel's population is Arab, approximately 1.7 million people

16 Arab MKs were elected to the 20th Knesset, 13% of the total seats

50% of Arab citizens live in poverty, compared to 20.9% of all Israelis

3,600 young Arabs chose to volunteer for national civilian service in 2012/2013

58.9% of Arab citizens 'feel part of the state of Israel and its problems'

65% of Arab citizens of Israel are 'proud to be Israeli'

6% of Israel's State Development budget was allocated to the Arab population

9% of undergraduate students at Israeli universities are Arab

Chanichim Questions

Who are Israel's Arab citizens?
Israel's Arab population comprises communities who were living in Israel prior to the formation of the state, previously living under Ottoman and then British Mandatory rule.

How many are there?
They currently constitute 20% of the population, numbering 1.7 million people.

Are they all Muslim?
The religious majority are Muslim (84%) (including 13% Bedouin), with large Druze (8.1%) and Christian (7.8%) populations.

Where do they live?
Most Arab citizens live in the north of the country, in majority Arab towns. Around 60% of the Christian Arab population are concentrated in Nazareth and Haifa, while the Druze live largely in the Galilee and Carmel regions in the North.

What language do they speak?
Israel has two official languages: Hebrew and Arabic. Arab citizens of Israel learn both languages at school, along with English. Most of them will speak Arabic within their own communities and with other Arabs, but have a good command of Hebrew and are comfortable speaking both.

Who are the Druze?
The Druze in Israel are recognised by the state as a distinct ethnoreligious community, having their own courts and religious leadership. Although Druze culture is Arab and they speak the Arabic language, the Druze have traditionally rejected Arab-Palestinian nationalism, identifying strongly as Israelis. They are well-represented in the political, military and public sectors in Israel.

Who are the Bedouins?
Within the Muslim Arab group there are around 200,000 Bedouins, descended from formerly semi-nomadic tribes, who have a range of cultural traditions that distinguish them from other Arab Muslim groups. Most Bedouin live in the Negev region of southern Israel, with a sizeable population in the Galilee in northern Israel. The majority have permanently settled in towns and villages purpose-built by the Israeli government, although a significant number live in unrecognised villages.

How do Arab citizens identify themselves?
Israel’s Arab population are often referred to in official and public discourse as ‘Israeli Arabs’, ‘Arab citizens of Israel’, ‘Palestinian Arab’ or as ‘Palestinian citizens of Israel’. Identity is particularly complex for Arabs living within Israel, and they tend to identify by ethnicity and religion rather than nationality. Nearly half of the overall Arab population (42%) identify themselves in a form that incorporated the term Palestinian, and 65% consider themselves 'proud' or 'very proud' to be Israeli.

Do Arabs have Israeli passports?
Arab citizens of Israel do have Israeli passports, just like all other Israeli citizens. There is nothing on their passport to necessarily denote them as Arab, other than assumptions based on their names and places of birth.

Is there a difference between an Arab citizen of Israel and a Palestinian citizen?
An Arab citizen of Israel has an Israeli passport and all the legal and civil rights of any other card carrying Israeli. A Palestinian is typically used to refer to someone who lives in Gaza, the West Bank or East Jerusalem. They cannot vote in Israeli elections (although there is an exception for residents of East Jerusalem, answered below), have to pass through checkpoints to enter Israel proper, although many of them do work in Israel.

What is the status of Arabs in East Jerusalem?
Arabs in East Jerusalem are classified officially as residents of Israel, without being citizens. This means they are unable to vote in national elections but may vote in Jerusalem municipal and council elections. They are not included in any of the statistics or definitions in this e-resource.

Do they recognise Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state?
Just over half of Israel’s Arab citizens accept Israel’s definition as a nation with a Jewish majority, with 55% saying they would prefer to live in Israel than in any other country in the world. Other polls have found that a majority were willing to recognise Israel as a Jewish state as long as they were given full rights and protected against discrimination. Whilst many Arab citizens of Israel are sympathetic to Palestinian self-determination and statehood and are often critical of Israeli policy in Gaza and the West Bank, the majority do not support violence against the state, and have no interest in conflict.

Do Arabs have equal rights in Israel?
Israel’s Declaration of Independence vowed to form a state that would “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex” and provide Arab citizens with “full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.” Arabs have the right to vote and equal rights protected by the Israeli legal and judicial system. Despite being equal in law, the government-backed 2003 Orr Commission report identified a widespread imbalance in the distribution of public funds between Jews and Arabs and stated that more needed to be done to reduce discrimination and unequal access to state services between Jews and Arabs.

Do Jews and Arabs have the same standard of living?
Socio-economic gaps between Jews and Arabs in Israel are growing year on year to the detriment of the Arab population. An analysis of the 2012 State Budget by an Israeli NGO that advocates for Arab rights, Mossawa, found that despite constituting 20% of the population, Arab citizens of Israel receive less than 6.25% of the State Budget. This is a contributing factor to poverty with just over twice as many members of Israel’s Arab community as Jews are below the poverty line. The Israeli government is seeking to reduce these inequalities through investment and state-sponsored schemes, working alongside NGOs and civil society initiatives. Another report released by Sikkuy in September 2011 found that 60% of Jewish Israelis believe it is in Israel’s interest to promote equality for Arab citizens. Moreover, 53% of Jews polled were disturbed by the inequality and 40% said that they would be willing to pay a personal price to reduce the socio-economic gap between Israel’s Arab and Jewish population.

What kind of jobs do they tend to do?
Arab citizens are under-represented in the civil service, business, high technology and financial sectors, whilst over-represented in low-skilled trades that are more poorly paid. For example, out of 150,000 employees in the high-tech sector, only about 1% are Arab.
Arabs contribute about 8% to Israel’s GDP, despite accounting for 20% of the population. According to the Israeli government, failure to utilise the Arab workforce costs Israel 31 billion shekels (£5.2 billion) a year.

Do Arab women work?
Female unemployment in the Arab sector is much higher than for Jewish women. However, there are organisations such as Jasmine that are working to offer Arab women equal employment opportunities.

How are Arabs represented in the political system?
Arab members of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) have been elected at every general election since Israel was founded. There are 16 Arab Members of the Knesset out of 120, representing 13% of MKs. Arab participation in elections rose from 56% in the 2013 election to 63% in 2015.

Do Arabs serve in the IDF?
Military service in Israel is currently compulsory for Jews and Druze, with exemptions for ultra-orthodox Jewish students and most Arabs, although any citizen can volunteer for military or national service. Druze serve in either a Druze-only battalion or mixed infantry and Special Forces units, with several rising to the rank of Major General, one rank below the most senior position in the IDF. Thousands of Bedouin serve in the IDF, partially encouraged by financial and educational incentives. Although Christian and Muslim Arabs are not obligated to serve in IDF, there are around 400 that choose to do so year on year. An additional 3,000 volunteer for non-combat services, called ‘national’ or ‘civil’ service, for example with the Israeli police or prison service. By 2016 the Israeli government would like to double the number of Arabs that volunteer for non-combat positions.

Do Arab children go to Jewish schools?
The Israeli school system is separated into distinct streams for different population groups, namely secular Jewish, religious Jewish, and Arab. In general, Arab children go to all-Arab schools, where they have their own curriculum that ties in with the general Jewish-Israeli curriculum. There are several mixed schools in existence, for example the Hand in Hand Centre for education has five schools throughout Israel in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa, the Galilee, and the Wadi Ara region, that take in pupils from pre-nursery up until 12th Grade.

Are there any Arab youth movements?
The Druze community has two large youth movements, Ofakim L’Atid and Druze Youth Movement Israel. Click here (link to case study) for the full story.

Learn more

Case Studies

Looking to print these case studies? See the News Channel Peula


As an Arab citizen of Israel I believe that constructing a shared society of inclusion and equality among Israel's Jewish and Arab citizens is a moral and pragmatic imperative for both the Arab and Jewish citizens of the State of Israel.

Mohammad Darawshe Director of Planning, Equality and Shared Society at Givat Haviva

I strongly support the work of the UK Task Force. It is vital that we build understanding of the issues facing Israeli Arabs, and do everything we can to help build good relations between Israel's communities.

H.E. Matthew Gould Former UK Ambassador to Israel

For the government of Israel, developing the potential of Israel’s Arab citizens is a matter of great and long-term importance. The UK Task Force has generated impressively broad based support from across the Jewish community...

H.E. Daniel Taub Former Ambassador of Israel to the Court of St. James

Text Studies

Talmud Baba Metzia 71a

Rabbi Yosef learnt that the verse: "If you lend money to any of My people that are poor with you, you should not charge them interest"
(Exodus 22)

Means that:

[If there is a choice of lending to] ‘My people’ or a non-Jew, choose ‘My people’ first.

[If the choice is between] poor and rich, choose poor first.

[If the choice is between] your poor [i.e. your relatives] and the [general] poor of your town, choose your poor first.

[If the choice is between] the poor of your city and the poor of another town, choose the poor of your city first.

In the Rabbis’ mind lending money is good. It’s done at no interest, certainly when lending to a Jew, and it can allow someone to invest and drive their own economic development.

Guide questions:
1. Is this text a Jewish version of the idea that ‘charity begins at home?’ How, if at all, is it different/better/worse?
2. How would Rabbi Yosef advise making a decision between lending money to a rich relative or a poor non-Jew?
3. How would you make this decision?

Rabbi Jeremy Gordon is the rabbi of New London Synagogue

Talmud Bavli Gittin 61a

Our Rabbis have taught: ‘We support the poor of the non-Israelite along with the poor of Israel, and visit the sick of the non-Israelite along with the sick of Israel, and bury the poor of the non-Israelite along with the dead of Israel, in the interests of peace’.

Guide questions:

1. The advice is clear, but do you understand this text to be about the shared destinies of all humanity, or is it just good advice to get non-Israelites to give Israelites an easier time?
2. This text comes from a time (first two centuries CE) when Israelites were oppressed under Roman rule. How should we understand our responsibilities differently today either in this country, where we are not so oppressed, or in Israel, where Jews are in power.

Rabbi Jeremy Gordon is the rabbi of New London Synagogue


Video Library

Photo Library

Israel Tour Programming

Visiting a Bedouin tent complex in the Negev, speaking to a Bedouin representative, taking part in a tea ceremony and possibly staying the night.
Things to be aware of beforehand
Sleeping under the stars in a goat hair tent as part of the Bedouin desert experience has become a rite of passage for many young British Jews participating in Israel Tour.

But how do Bedouin communities in the Negev really live? Bedouin culture can consist of some harsh realities beyond tea and tents, and the way you portray this to your chanichim needs to be sensitive.
Encourage questions about positive or constructive initiatives that are taking place to enhance the Bedouin lifestyle and to assist their communities.
Revisit some of the key facts from above and cross-reference with what your hosts told you.

Ask your chanichim if they feel that the depiction of Bedouin life in Israel was unrealistic? If so, why do you think this was the case?
Is there a tension or conflict between trying to combine the traditional Bedouin lifestyle with the modern Israeli state?
What constructive ways of doing so did we hear about? What other ideas do you have to do so?
Visiting a Druze town and having a big meal, whilst hearing about the Druze community in Israel. Possibly meeting with Ofakim L'Atid, a Druze youth movement.
Things to be aware of beforehand
The Druze hospitality on Israel Tour has been a staple for years, as chanichim are able to feast on Arab platters and see traditional Druze dress, entertainment and design. This community is complex and nuanced, however, and it can be interesting to really dig deeper into their motivations as the most integrated of Arab populations.
Encourage questions about why the Druze choose more integration with Israeli society than other Israeli Arab communities.
A simple activity could be a “pop quiz” with questions about Druze statistics, reasons for their actions and status in Israel, and other whimsical things like which food was better.
Half day seminar to do with civil society initiatives and educational activities to create a shared society in Israel.
Things to be aware of beforehand
Givat Haviva can be a challenging session as it often challenges pre-conceived beliefs about Israel and equality. It is important to ensure no chanichim feel alienated by the seminar and enter it with correct expectations.
Facilitate questions about shared society.
A basic processing activity could be useful after Givat Haviva. Get chanichim to draw out a human body, and write in the head what they learnt from the seminar; in the chest what they felt during and after the seminar; in the arms what they think could be done to address challenges they heard about; and in the legs if and how they would like to move forward with this topic back at home.
A tour of the Bedouin area, followed by baking and eco-cosmetics making, using traditional and authentic Bedouin methods.
Things to be aware of beforehand
Similarly to the typical Bedouin tent experience, there is a lot to gain from this experience if it is handled effectively.
Facilitate questions to Bedouin about their life aspirations and lifestyle, and whether this fairly rural way of life is still satisfactory for them or whether they feel the need to keep up with modern Israeli society methods of production.
See the Introduction to Bedouin peula from this e-resource.