Kafaya App Puts Racism on the Map

21 August 2014

Since the kidnapping of three Jewish teenagers in June, there has been a measurable increase in racism towards Arabs in Israel. In light of the heightened tensions between the Jewish and Arab populations, and the numerous racist incidents which have resulted, NIF grantee Shutafut-Shurakah has used the Kafaya [Enough in Arabic] app to put racism on the map. NIF spoke about the app with Project Manager Yonit Naaman.

What’s the idea behind Kafaya? “We designed Kafaya as a simple technological tool to help combat racism towards Arab citizens of Israel. A major racist incident easily gets media coverage, but there are many racist events, hidden from the eye, which don’t get covered. This app allows anyone with access to a computer to upload details of a racist incident to the Kafaya map – damage to Arabic signpostings, violence, discrimination at work or university, exclusion from services, etc.”

The application itself isn’t new. “That’s right. It’s already been around for a while, but we hadn’t launched it yet. The plan was to launch it to deal with the issue of discrimination in housing, in the run-up to the new academic year. But then the war broke out and there were more and more racist incidents. We decided we needed to focus attention on the general problem of racism rather than a specific manifestation.”

How does it work? “There are two aspects. The first involves putting racist incidents on the map, which allows for the reporting of events, searching, and gathering of data. For example, we can check where in Israel there are hotspots of racist activity. It also sorts the incidents into categories. The second aspect involves dealing with incidents. For example, we were recently approached by a resident of Afula, who found graffiti saying “Kahane was Right” next to her local convenience store, but the municipality wasn’t doing anything about it. So we sent someone to photograph it, and we sent the picture accompanied by a complaint to the Afula Municipality. We’re now monitoring their follow-up.”

Can you give some more examples? “Yes, someone put graffiti on a sign in Tel Aviv in order to wipe out the Arabic writing. Someone photographed it and the municipality took care of it. Another example is of someone who went to buy pizza in Domino’s after the kidnapping of the three boys, and the seller began cursing the Arabs. The other people there – who by the way weren’t Arabs – started arguing with him and he also cursed them. They approached us and Domino’s, and he was fired…Publicizing the event helped us raise awareness.”

What are the users’ reactions to the app? “Our Facebook page has gotten many likes, but they’re not all sending reports. We’re working to build trust with the Arab public, which has been damaged over the last few years. In practice, there are more reports by Jews than Arabs. In that regard, it is important to emphasize that the site is bilingual.”

Thank you very much and good luck. Any other thoughts? “Yes. Send us reports. Trust us. We will do everything in our power to deal with every incident.”