British Jews set up body to work with Israeli Arabs

United Kingdom Task Force on Arab Citizens of Israel was set up last year engagement and understanding of issues facing Israeli Arabs.

LONDON – A new Jewish community initiative to promote understanding and equality for Israel’s Arab citizens is up and running with the announcement last week of its first coordinator.
The United Kingdom Task Force on Arab Citizens of Israel was set up last year by a broad coalition of Jewish organizations, to deepen UK Jewish engagement and understanding of issues facing Israeli Arabs and to leverage communal resources to provide effective solutions for furthering their rights.
Founding members of the initiative are the Board of Deputies of British Jews, United Jewish Israel Appeal, the Pears Foundation, the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, the New Israel Fund and UK Friends of the Abraham Fund. The  task force’s executive committee is made up of the chairmen or chief executives of those organizations.
Task force members have highlighted the obligation set out in Jewish tradition and Israel’s Declaration of Independence to social and political equality for all the country’s inhabitants – Jews and Arabs alike.
Last week, the new organization announced that Dr. Alice Wood, a former deputy-director of Labor Friends of Israel, would be its first coordinator.
The London-based body also hopes to encourage member organizations to work with and empower Israeli partners to strengthen civil society activity, including the strengthening of Jewish and Arab leadership.
In addition, the task force will facilitate information sharing and cooperation with Jewish communities outside Israel to ensure effective engagement with the issues.
Trevor Pears, co-chairman of the task force and executive director of the Pears Foundation, said: “According to senior Israeli figures, including [former] Supreme Court judge Theodore Orr, this is the most important domestic issue facing Israel. Therefore for those who are concerned about Israel’s stability, prosperity and security, we must find meaningful ways to engage.”
Doug Krikler, co-chairman of the UK Task Force and UJIA chief executive, said: “We are delighted to welcome Alice and look forward to working with her and the rest of the Jewish community in addressing one of the most pressing domestic issues facing Israel today.”
The task force will work alongside the North American Inter-Agency TaskForce on Israeli Arab Issues and other partners in pursuit of sharedaims.
Brian Lurie and Steve Schwager, co-chairmen of the North AmericanInter-Agency Task Force, said: “We look forward to sharing ourexperience and working alongside our British colleagues to further themission of educating our communities on the most pressing domesticissue facing Israel today – Jewish-Arab relations in Israel. Now is thetime for bold leadership and our hat goes off to you for taking thelead in the UK. May we and the State of Israel go from strength tostrength.”