Broken government promises leave Israeli-Arab youth organizations without funds
Despite government approval of NIS 15 billion to health, education and employment in Arab sector only 3 years ago, informal educational groups in the sector claimed they never received promised funds; Israel Arab Scouts Association chairman says organization forced to shutter 11 branches, summer camp in jeopardy; Education Ministry: 'Budgetary increments not yet received.'
Resolution number 922—adopted in December 2015 as a five-year plan for 2016-2020—was, on paper, one of the most significant such decisions to be made by an Israeli government, and aimed to promote Israel's Arab population and reduce the gaps between Israeli-Arabs and their Jewish countrymen.
The Israel Arab Scouts Association—the sector's largest youth organization—however, claimed that the lack of promised funds forced it to shutter more than ten of its chapters, with its summer camp activities also in considerable jeopardy.
"We are still in the process of deciding what to do," Israel Arab Scouts Association Chairman Ali Ayoub said. "The organization used to have 4,200 members, but today it's down to 2,500."
Ayoub claimed that at the Education Ministry's behest, he prepared his organization for expansion based on its new budget.
"Throughout 2017 they asked me to open more chapters," he explained. "Right now, no one knows who has that money in their pockets. It never reached us, despite all of the resolutions, promises and seminars we participated in."
"We've opened chapters and worked hard—and the money never came. People we've employed lost faith in us. We were made out to be liars," he lamented.
Ayoub also maintained that two other Arab society youth groups did not receive the funds earmarked for them under Resolution 922.
All of Israel's youth organizations are subject to the Youth and Children Organizations Act, and 18 of 20 of them are represented by the Council of Youth and Children Organizations. The law regulates the different parameters for budgeting the groups.
The implementation guide for Resolution 922 stipulated that one of the goals of the special budget was to "increase the number of children and teens participating in informal education activities."
Nevertheless, a letter sent by the Education Ministry to the Israel Arab Scouts Association this past December claimed the transfer of the seven million shekels earmarked for precisely that purpose by the government was not authorized.
Responding to Ynet's request for comment, the Education Ministry chose not to remark on fund allocation under Resolution 922, and only said no cut was planned to the Youth and Children Organizations Act.
"Budgetary increments for 2018 have yet to have been received, as every year, but once they are received all youth organizations will be afforded their relative share—including the the Israel Arab Scouts Association," the ministry's comment continued.
"It would be improper to equate the funds allocated to youth groups—including the the Israel Arab Scouts Association—in late 2017 with the middle of 2018. The increments for 2018 have yet to be received," the ministry iterated.
The Council of Youth and Children Organizations, meanwhile, said that it will do everything in its power to prevent budgetary cuts to youth organizations' operations, which will lead to cutting down on activities planned for the coming summer.
"We are in talks with the education minister to intercede on the matter," the council stated.