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March 12, 2004 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-03-12

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Something To Live For

Bicultural organization works to improve
the ecomic outlook for Israel's Arab minority.



Clockwise from top left: Max
Carmack, his dad, Craig, show
off a boat carved from a fallen

Nancy and Jack Margolis make a
dream catcher together.

Gabe Goldman demonstrates how
to make a fan:



Saving The Earth




Ann Arbor
The Jewish Community Center of
Washtenaw County celebrated Tu
b'Shevat with a community family
program on Feb. 15.
• Activities during "What's Jewish
About A Moose?" included nature
'crafts, seed planting and music, and
featured Dr. Gabe Goldman, director

of the Jewish Environmental and
Nature Educators (JENE) Institute.
JENE follows an approach to Jewish
education that integrates the teaching
of Jewish values and environmental
traditions with spiritual experiences of
nature. The program was sponsored
by the Benard L. Maas Foundation.

nemployment is high in
Tamra, an Arab city of about
22,000 in Israel's Western
Galilee. And, according to
Muslim tradition, women who lose their
husbands are supposed to stay
sequestered, dependent on the charity of
the community.
But, about a year ago, eight of the -
city's widows bucked tradition and the
economic trends to begin their own
business — buying locally grown vegeta-
bles, turning them into pickles and sell-
ing them to stores, restaurants and pri-
vate homes.
The Azka Pickle Cooperative was
made possible by the work of the
Center for Jewish Arab Economic
Development (CJAED), a 16-year-old
NGO (non-governmental organization)
that works to close the economic gaps
between Israel's Jewish and Arab popula-
"We helped them get their permits,
did tax consulting," said Helmi Kittani,
CJAED co-director. "It's one of our
grassroots success stories."
A former bank executive, Kittani was
in Detroit Feb. 11 with CJAED board
member Eytan Biderman, whose back-
ground is in high-tech industry. The
two were on a tour of New York,
Chicago and Detroit, drumming up
support for their organization.
"By supporting and promoting activi-
•ties that develop joint business and
encourage investment in the Arab sector,
expanding opportunities in the work-
place, empowering Arab women within
their own society and understanding the
needs of all," the organization's mission
statement says, "the CJAED will enable
the Arab population to integrate into
Israel's economy for the benefit of
Israel's society as a whole."
The organization has won several
important awards from the Israeli gov-
ernment and has found support from
New York-area Jewish donors, the U.S.
government and the European Union,
_Biderman said. But its mission is some-
times misunderstood in the United
"When I was kid, Israel's GNP (gross
national product) was higher than
Japan's, higher than Italy's," he said.

"Today, Japan's is better, Italy is much
better, and Taiwan and South Korea are
closing in.
"There's no way Israel can improve
when we disenfranchise 20 percent of
our people. ),
In the United States, Biderman said,
nearly all new immigrants and ethnic
group members are eventually integrated
into the social and economic fabric.
"That makes for a very vital economy,"
he said.
"In Israel, it's not just that the Arab
business people are losing — we, as a
society, are losing as well."
The prosperity of Israeli Arabs also
has ramifications for peace in the area,
he said. "Israel is a small island in an
Arab sea. They may not like us, but they
observe us. The way Israel treats its Arab
population is a signal to them how to
treat us."
One CJAED program, "Building
Business Bridges," provides multi-cul-
tural management training and cultural
experiences for young Jewish and Arab
Israelis. This year, it has begun giving
scholarships for Palestinians and Israeli
Arabs as well as Israeli Jews at the MBA
accreditation program at Haifa •
In addition to the Azka Pickle factory,
the CJAED Women's Unit helped 15
women from a Bedouin community
near Beersheba to form a company to
prepare wool for the cottage fabrics
"In our daily activities, we are very
connected to the grassroots, especially to
strengthening the weakest parts of the
Arab community — new businesses,
women business-owners," Kittani said.
"We have a budget for training; we have
a loan fund for startup businesses. We
look especially favorably at new busi-
nesses involving young Jews and Arabs
Biderman said American Jews some-
times ask him, "How can you talk to
these people? What do you have in
He always tells them, "Successful
business people do not know these
terms. If you think this way, you're not
going to do business." E


For information about the CJAED, see
vvvvvv.cjaed.org or e-mail

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