Rawnak Natour has devoted her professional life to promoting civil rights and equality in employment and education and struggling against the discrimination of minorities. As Co-Executive Director of veteran NIF grantee Sikkuy – The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality, a shared organization of Arabs and Jews in Israel, she seeks to effect change in government ministries, public agencies, local authorities and among the general public. She seeks to encourage better government policies toward Arab citizens and to create a new reality of a shared and equal society.
She says, “At Sikkuy, we work thoroughly, methodically and intensively on all fronts to build a shared and equal society between Jews and Arabs. On a local level we have succeeded in significant breakthroughs in developing services for Arab society. We work closely with Arab local authorities and support their activities in obtaining budgets and effectively using them, while we also work with government offices and decision makers in advocacy processes to promote more equal policies to Arab society and local authorities.”
Natour, who hails from Qalansawe in the Arab triangle northeast of Tel Aviv, gives a number of examples of these endeavors.
“In planning and housing, we help Arab authorities to promote urban master plans and obtain approval from district planning committees as well as to expand their jurisdictions and develop industrial parks. Recently, we succeeded in removing the threat of a demolition order for an entire neighborhood of hundreds of residents and to begin a process of getting construction there recognized.”
“We have also brought about a revolution in public transport in Arab society by working with the Ministry of Transport and Arab local authorities. We are adding more bus lines and bus stops that meet peoples’ needs. These achievements not only make my day, they make my life.”
For the holidays she says, “First of all I wish for an end to the occupation of the territories. This is the most critical issue that must be dealt with. I also wish for Israel to build a shared society that respects all sections of Israel society – Haredim, Ethiopian immigrants, the LGBTQ community and more. In Palestinian-Jewish relations, the main societal divide, I wish for Israel to recognize the rights of the Palestinian minority both as individuals and also collectively – to respect us, and make sure that we receive all the services we deserve as citizens. That includes national rights, preserving our culture, language, and identity. Only in this way can we build a genuinely shared society for the benefit of all of us.”