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Interfaith fellowship increases aid to Arab Israelis during Ramadan

International Fellowship of Christians and Jews also calls on government to bolster Arab connection to the country in wake of proposed ‘Jewish state’ law

Thousands of Muslims perform prayers on the first Friday of the holy month of Ramadan at Al Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem on June 2, 2017. (Afif H. Amireh/Flash90)
Thousands of Muslims perform prayers on the first Friday of the holy month of Ramadan at Al Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem on June 2, 2017. (Afif H. Amireh/Flash90)

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is increasing its assistance to Arab Israelis, beginning with food and clothing aid during the Muslim holiday season of Ramadan.

The Fellowship currently is distributing 9,500 food and clothing vouchers during Ramadan, which began on May 26, up to the holiday of Eid al-Fitr through Israeli social services offices in 78 Arab and Arab-Jewish communities to more than 9,000 low-income families. The Fellowship also will distribute 5,500 food vouchers and 4,000 clothing vouchers to children in after-school clubs run by Israel’s Ministry of Social Services and Social Affairs.

The Ramadan aid is part of an overall $5.6 million that the Fellowship is providing to needy Israeli Arabs in 2017, the group said. Among the key projects are “Fellowship Funds” in 77 lower-income villages and towns that provide urgent assistance including food, medicine, clothing and transportation to medical appointments. The Fellowship also operates the “With Dignity and Fellowship” program, which provides poor elderly with food, medicine and company to alleviate loneliness, as well as clothing and summer activities for impoverished children.

The Fellowship’s founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, has called on the government of Israel to bolster Israeli Arabs’ connection to the country in the wake of the proposed law to officially declare Israel a Jewish state, which has stirred anxiety among Israeli Arabs and other minorities, by increasing its investment in the population’s welfare and infrastructure.

Arab Israeli protesters take part in a demonstration against home demolitions in Arab neighborhoods carried out by Israeli authorities, in the Arab Israeli city of Arara, in northern Israel, on January 21, 2017. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)
Arab Israeli protesters take part in a demonstration against home demolitions in Arab neighborhoods carried out by Israeli authorities, in the Arab Israeli city of Arara, in northern Israel, on January 21, 2017. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)

“It is important that the citizens of Israel understand that the legislation of the law declaring Israel as the nation of the Jewish people may be important, but the feeling of equality and quality of life among the Arab citizens of Israel, one-fifth of Israel’s citizens, is the real guarantee of the whole Israeli society and the future of a moral and sustainable nation,” Eckstein said in a statement.

The Fellowship also recently invested in projects to improve medical services in Bedouin communities, and has provided educational scholarships for many hundreds of Christian and Muslim Arab and Druze Israelis.

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