President Reuven Rivlin launched a joint project Sunday evening with Collective Impact, a group working to increase employment among Israeli Arabs, to integrate the population into the private sector.
CEOs and employers involved with the group met with Rivlin at the President’s Resident to discuss the project.
“The Arab public with all its diversity today makes up more than 20 percent of the general population and more than a quarter of children in first grade,” Rivlin pointed out.
“One may like it, one may fear it, but one cannot ignore it. This is a community, part and parcel of this land, for whom this land is their homeland.
Sadly, too few Israeli Jews are familiar with the Arab society, beyond assumptions of stereotype. Therefore, there exists a significant gap, created over the years, between the two societies which live side by side, together – yet blind to one another. Over this divide, this gap, we must build a bridge, step by step. The mission to build a bridge, and a basis for a sense of cooperation between the Jewish and Arab communities, is for me a humanitarian, Jewish, Zionist, and national mission of the very highest priority,” he added.
Rivlin pointed out that the project to integrate Israeli Arab workers into the private business sector could go a long way towards ending social gaps and perhaps some security issues as well. There would be no guarantees — but also every opportunity possible to succeed.
“The success of our journey may alter our long-term reality, yet its failure may lead to pain and distress,” he said. “We do not have the privilege to fail, nor to give up. Good-will alone will not suffice.
“One thing that I can assure you – as long as you stand by your commitment to this mission, I will be here with you and for you, and my door will always be open to you. We are partners in this national mission which you have taken upon yourselves. We are partners on this journey which is our duty to our children, for us all, each and every one of us.”
Among the companies that participated in the study that launched the project were The Strauss Group, Amdocs, Fattal, Check Point, Herzog-Fox-Ne’eman; Shikun&Binui; Teva Pharmaceuticals; HP; Migdal; Matrix and others. Ofra Strauss, chairwoman of the Strauss Group, Ilan Birnfeld, CEO of Deloitte, Shai Levy, CEO of Amdocs and Imad Telhami, CEO of Babcom were present at Sunday night’s meeting, along with a number of others as well.