In February 2020, we launched a new Shared Cities Forum, enabling Jewish and Arab elected officials from each of Israel’s seven mixed cities to meet and exchange perspectives on issues affecting residents of their cities. Two meetings have been held thus far, where elected officials were able to present the main challenges facing their municipalities, as well as steps they are taking to address them. Among the issues discussed included disparities in budgeting for Jewish and Arab schools, rifts in Jewish-Arab relations resulting from cultural practices celebrated by different communities (e.g., lengthy public rituals of celebrating weddings and mourning deaths), and plans for economic development of the cities.
This forum provides a unique opportunity for local leaders to come together and brainstorm solutions improving their cities. It marks an important step towards the development of Israel’s mixed cities as shared, inclusive, and egalitarian spaces.