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The Fellowship’s Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein urges government to increase aid to Arab Israelis

JERUSALEM, May 24, 2017 – With the proposed law to officially declare Israel a Jewish state stirring anxiety among Israeli Arabs and other minorities, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) announced today it will significantly increase its economic aid to low-income Israeli Arabs in order to strengthen their integration into Israeli society.

The Fellowship, supported by tens of millions of Christians in North America and around the world, said it is increasing its support for Israel’s Arab citizens to NIS 2.3 million ($640,000), in time for the upcoming month-long Ramadan holiday, which begins sundown May 26.

Meanwhile, The Fellowship’s founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, is urging the Government of Israel to bolster Israeli Arabs’ connection to the country by increasing its investment in the population’s welfare and infrastructure.

“The investment in the welfare of minorities in Israel is critical to develop the feeling of connection and mutual support between communities. Until now, the government occasionally talks about this need but has done very little,” Eckstein said.

Referring to the ongoing debate in Israel’s Knesset over the Jewish law bill, Eckstein added: “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. I would like to wish our Muslim brothers a ‘Ramadan Kareem’ with the hope that our support will make it possible for thousands of families to celebrate with dignity and joy.”

The Fellowship’s aid, in the form of 9,500 food and clothing vouchers, will be distributed during Ramadan leading 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 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.

Food cards will range in value from NIS 200 ($56) to NIS 300 ($83), while clothing cards will range in value from NIS 200 ($56) to NIS 250 ($70).

The director of the Department of Social Services in the Arab village of Rahat, Sa'id Elubra, said that his community, “like many other Arab towns, is a city hit by poverty and unemployment, with youth at-risk and a lack of nutritional security. Some of the children come to school sick and suffering from malnutrition. There are families that force the children to fast during the month of Ramadan not because of the religious command but because of the economic situation. At the end of the day they receive a meager meal that harms their health. The Fellowship’s project for the needy during Ramadan and throughout the year saves lives and saves children from hunger.”

The Ramadan aid is part of an overall NIS 20 million, or $5.6 million, The Fellowship is providing to needy Israeli Arabs in 2017. 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 operations 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 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 as well.

Over the past several years The Fellowship has dedicated more than NIS 180 million, or $50 million, to support Israeli Christian and Muslim Arabs, Bedouin, and Druze. That aid is part of more than NIS 2 billion, or $500 million, The Fellowship has provided for hundreds of social welfare projects for all of Israel’s citizens in its efforts to strengthen Israel’s most vulnerable.

For further details, contact: Ryan Greiss, Puder PR, New York: (212) 558-9400; [email protected]

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The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) funds humanitarian aid to the needy in Israel and in Jewish communities around the world, promotes prayer and advocacy on behalf of the Jewish state, and provides resources that help build bridges of understanding between Christians and Jews.

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