EU Ambassador tours Sakhnin with the Mossawa Center as part of the National Day of Giving

Date: 2019/04/01
The Mossawa Center tours Sakhnin with the Honorable Ambassador Giaufret, examining the challenges facing the locality and the efforts take by the local authority and local civil society organizations to fill the gaps left by the central government.

On Thursday, March 28th, the Mossawa Center and representatives of the local authority gave the Ambassador of the Delegation to the European Union to Israel a tour of Sakhnin, the second largest city in Israel’s Northern District. The tour examined the challenges facing the locality and the steps that civil society organizations and the local authority are taking to strengthen the community and improve its quality of life.

The tour began with a visit to the Misgav industrial zone. A representative of the Sakhnin municipality shed light on the disparities between the Misgav industrial zone and that of Sakhnin. Although the population of Sakhnin is larger than that of Misgav, the Misgav industrial zone is much larger, spanning 885 dunams, housing 104 businesses, and employing thousands. The Sakhnin industrial zone, on the other hand, is spread over 213 dunams and only offers enough space for thirty businesses which employ no more than several hundred individuals. The local authority representative noted that for over thirty years, the Sakhnin municipality has asked to be included in the industrial zone, 70% of which is located on lands confiscated from Sakhnin in 1948. As a substantial source of revenue for local authorities, industrial zones are not only central in promoting employment, but they are also crucial for the stability of municipal governments and the socioeconomic welfare of their constituents.

Following the visit to the industrial zone, the group visited the Towns Association for Environmental Quality (TAEQ), an environmental research and community center. There, the Honorable Ambassador met students from Sakhnin College participating in an environmental program called “Silice,” a project funded by the European Union in the Framework of the Erasmus + higher education program which provides a platform for youth to develop sustainable solutions to environmental and economic challenges facing their communities. After learning about the students’ creative project ideas, the Honorable Ambassador met with representatives of TAEQ to learn about the center’s innovative work to promote a sustainability and social justice in Sakhnin.

Later in the day, the Honorable Ambassador met with the Mayor of Sakhnin and other prominent community members and civil society actors. Those participating in the meeting discussed the challenges facing the people of Sakhnin, including the health crisis and violence within the community, as well as efforts taken by citizens to address these challenges.

Following a visit with the players of the football team Bnei Sakhnin, the Mossawa Center took the Honorable Ambassador to meet members of Jafra, a local youth movement that is connected Al-Amr Association. After planting trees in the school yard with the youth, the Honorable Ambassador sat with the youth group to learn more about their experiences and their hopes for the future. The students discussed the role of Jafra as a framework for social engagement, noting that it offers a rare opportunity for young people who lack public spaces and civil society initiatives to be involved in their communities and to make their voices heard. One student emphasized Jafra’s role in providing a space where young Palestinians can express themselves freely without fear of repercussions with another student referring to it as a “Safe Zone.” Others highlighted the challenges facing Arab students, noting that “We are always one step back because of discrimination.”  

The tour and the events therein are part of the National Day of Giving which seeks to strengthen Arab Palestinian civil society in Israel by fostering community involvement in and support for civil society initiatives. Arab communities suffer from discrimination in state budgeting. Thus, civil society plays a crucial role in filling the gaps left by the central government. The National day of Giving is funded by the European Union.

For more information on the National Day of Giving, please see our most recent press release or contact [email protected].  


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