The story of Israel’s Arabs

Ness Ziona Mayor Yossi Shvo could well provide a breakthrough that will lead to the resumption of peace negotiations.

Yona Yahav (photo credit: TZVI ROGER, CITY OF HAIFA)
Yona Yahav
(photo credit: TZVI ROGER, CITY OF HAIFA)
■ NESS ZIONA Mayor Yossi Shvo could well provide a breakthrough that will lead to the resumption of peace negotiations. Shvo, who is fluent in Arabic and knowledgeable on the history of Arabs in the region and the history and traditions of Islam, wrote a book on the subject and presented it to the city’s 12th-grade students, telling them that it is important for them to be familiar with the history of the local Arab population.
News of the content and distribution of Shvo’s book reached Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who was sufficiently impressed to send a peace delegation to meet with the mayor last weekend. More often than not, when Palestinians meet with Israelis, the conversation is either in English or Hebrew – but this time, the common language was Arabic.
■ HISTORY WAS made last week when the Haifa Chamber of Commerce, for the first time ever, hosted a convention of the executive boards of all of Israel’s Chambers of Commerce. David Castel, the president of the Haifa Chamber of Commerce, updated his colleagues on his meetings with various government ministers and members of Knesset, but the main topic of conversation was a proposal by Uriel Lynn, the president of the Federation of Israel Chambers of Commerce, urging the adoption of legislation that clearly defines the rights of both the employer and the employee. In labor disputes, observed Lynn, the rights of employees are often enshrined in collective agreements, but seldom is there any reference to the rights of employers. This, in his view, is entirely unfair.
■ APROPOS HAIFA, among the patrons who showed up last Saturday at the new, controversial Alma Coffee shop in Jerusalem’s Independence Park was Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav, who was taken there by friends. Yahav didn’t see any big deal in a coffee shop being open on Shabbat. In Haifa coffee shops have been open on Shabbat for years, he observed. Then again, Haifa is not Jerusalem.
■ IS FEMINISM passé? That question will be answered by women active in politics, literature, fashion, communications, entertainment and more at a special event being held on September 1, at 7 p.m., at the Hamidrasha Gallery, 10 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv, under the auspices of the Faculty of Arts at Beit Berl Academic College.
Everything in Israel is politics – most certainly feminism. Even though women in the State of Israel were never denied the right to vote, they suffered discrimination in the workplace not only in the difference in salary for doing the same job as a man, but also in the hierarchy of the workplace, be it academia, industry or white-collar employment. Things have improved a lot over the past decade, but there is still a great a deal of inequality to overcome.
Among the responders who will each be given three minutes to tell their own stories are MK Merav Michaeli, Dorit Rabinyan, Mayan Keret, Ronit Elkabetz, Anisa Ashkar, Gal Gabai, Efrat Mishori, Galia Wallach, Linoy Bar Geffen, Dror Keren, Hanan Abu, Marlene Wing, Pnina Tamnu-Shata, Adi Keisar, Dr.
Yaeli Hashash, Dr. Yifat Metzner, Dr. Yifat Biton, Dr. Hava Bronfeld-Stein and Prof. Daphna Joel.
According to the organizers of the event, feminism has enabled many women to realize their dreams and has also given women the freedom of choice and the right to be elected, to acquire education and to work in the free professions, the rights to their own bodies and the custody of their children.
These are issues that in many countries, including Israel, are today taken for granted. But it’s not so long ago that women had to fight for all of these rights and more, and in some countries they still do. A little reminder never hurts, and a lot of activism is still needed.