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May 16, 2003 - Image 22

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-05-16

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real business project," Poran says.
Poran invested $20,000, bought 10
computers and rented an empty store
in the middle of the village. The proj-
ect was ready to go.
"I have worked on the idea for a
long time," Mahamid said. "I spoke
to our municipality, to local busi-
nessmen, to the Histadrut Workers
Union. No one would go along with
me, no one was ready to reach out
and help the community, until I met
The new cafe — called Click —
already is humming with the happy
clicking of children. The cafe charges
$2 an-hour, which is no small sum for
the residents of Fureidis, but
Mahamid and Poran are determined
to make a little profit.
"I don't want this project to depend
on donations," Poran said. "I want it
to be profitable. All profits will go to
the development of similar projects in
Arab villages."
This is not the first Internet cafe in
an Arab village; most Arab towns and
bigger villages have at least one.
Neither is it the first joint business
venture between Jews and Arabs.
However, it is one of the few projects
designed to set wheels rolling for the
development of the Arab communities
in Israel.
"My village really has very little to
offer its residents," Mahamid said
'Although we have quite a number of
businessmen, all they have come up
with were a number of coffee houses.
They will invest millions in building a
hotel in Haifa, but will not invest in
their own community.
"It's not the money that counts in

Guy's investment. It's the intention to
change things."

Economic Plus

Fureidis played an ugly role early in
the intifada. When Israeli Arabs rioted
that first weekend of the intifada, local
hooligans burned an Egged bus. There
were no casualties — except for the
delicate membrane of Jewish-Arab
"For a long time, since the outbreak
of the intifada, Jews stayed out of Arab
villages," Poran said. "It was important
for me to make the political statement
that since both peoples live in this
country side by side,. they will not be
able to do so without deepening their
mutual business involvement.
As far as I'm concerned, there is no
difference between a business venture
in Tel Aviv and Fureidis."
Some 4,500 of Fureidis' 10,000 resi-
dents are less than 25. Until the out-
break of the intifada, families made a
living mostly by fishing and working
in nearby Jewish towns and cities —
Zichron Ydacov, Haifa and Hadera.
Jews used to come on Saturdays for a
bite or to shop in the local market.
However, with Jews afraid to visit
Arab areas — and Israel reeling from
an economic slump — Fureidis suf-
fered a heavy economic blow.
"I'm glad we started with the
Internet," Poran said. "The Internet
opens eyes. Local kids are now exposed
to the same Web sites as my kids in
Maccabim, or for that matter in any
Jewish community.
"The Internet cafe of Fureidis is a real
bridge. We need many such bridges."

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