Israel is a country of more than 7 million citizens who belong to two main national-ethnic communities: the majority (~76%) is Jewish and the largest minority (~ 21%) is Arab. AJEEC-NISPED is multi-focal, comprehensive and holistic, addressing Israel's most pressing issue: how the Jewish majority and the Arab minority may live together in a democratic state in a way that enables both to fully develop their social, cultural and political character without infringing the rights of the other. The quest for social, economic and political equality while preserving the cultural and national rights of minorities is one of the critical issues of our time. Due to the volatile situation in the Middle East and the potentially grave ramifications of failure to achieve peace, the specific case of Arab citizens in Israel presents both exceptional challenges and opportunities which are the basis of AJEEC-NISPED's work and goals.
In order to meet these challenges, in the year 2000, Jews
and Arabs joined hands to establish the Arab-Jewish Center for Equality,
Empowerment and Cooperation - AJEEC - an acronym that in Arabic means
"I am coming toward you". Then, AJEEC was a distinct department of NISPED, the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development.
Our activities focus primarily on the needs and concerns of the Negev Arab-Bedouin community – some 180,000 people – out of awareness that in no other community are the needs and the challenges so acute.
A flourishing and involved Arab community working towards the creation of an equal, inclusive and pluralistic civic society in Israel.
AJEEC-NISPED seeks to advance a process that moves people from a situation of neediness and dependency to one in which they see themselves as entitled to rights and in which they have a sense of capability and take responsibility for their lives and their future. Our dominant approach to community development is rooted in the assumption that changing the reality of people’s lives is not enough, and that one must strive to change their attitudes and views towards the reality they live in.
We initiate a wide range of programs and projects in three primary spheres: