July 16, 2015
- Israeli Arabs: The Untold Story – Robert Cherry
Affirmative action policies for Israeli Arabs initiated under Ehud Olmert were accelerated during the Netanyahu administration. These included allocating funds for joint industrial parks in Arab and Jewish towns, subsidies that helped firms hire Arab labor, and expanded transportation infrastructure which allowed Arabs to reach employment sites.
In addition, the Israeli government developed a five-year plan for improving Arab education and established a special unit in the prime minister’s office to promote economic development in the Arab community. Despite the opposition of Palestinian nationalists, more and more Arab communities began to cooperate with government agencies. At the same time, educational and occupational initiatives began to improve the possibilities for Arab women. Labor participation rates for women 30-39 increased from 24% in 2005 to 34% in 2010.
These transformations also occurred in east Jerusalem, with investments in infrastructure and transportation, the building of schools, and a dramatic expansion of medical facilities. Today the health quality indices for east Jerusalem are the same as for west Jerusalem.
Between 2005 and 2011, inflation-adjusted Arab net family income increased by 7.4%. The number of Arabs employed in government civil service rose from 2,800 in 2003 to 5,000 in 2011 – an increase of 78%, in comparison to a 12% increase in the number of Jewish workers during the same period. The share of Israeli Arabs who were “very satisfied” with their economic conditions rose from 40% in 2004-5 to 60% in 2010-11. The writer is a professor of economics at Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center. (Mida)