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Yesterday Sikkuy (Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality in Israel) released its annual report on government relations with the Arab minority.

The grim report shows the Jewish majority projecting an ugly and shameful image and clearly shows that discrimination exists in every field the study examined. This is one of the factors behind the poverty and the crisis in the Arab community.

Fewer hours of teaching are devoted to the community and children get fewer hours of study per child. In the past decade, the education gap between the Arab teacher and his or her Jewish counterpart has widened.

There is one note of success - a rise in the number of those in the Arab community getting matriculation. This is 29 percent among 17-year olds, compared to 50 percent among Jews.

Only 2.1 percent of boarding schools in Israel are for Arab children. There are 82,500 places for children in day-schools regulated by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, but only 1,750 Arab children get to benefit.

No doubt, the shortage of education at toddler level reduces the children's readiness for kindergarten and school, and consequently their later achievements.

Fewer places in day-care centers prevents Arab mothers from joining the work force, lowering the chances of the family drawing itself out of the poverty trap. In Israel, there are two segments of the population whose rate of participation in the work force is particularly low - the Jewish Haredi sector (80 percent of the men don't work) and Arab women (82 percent don't work.)

While Arabs make up 19 percent of the population, only 3.2 percent of the industrial zones joining local authorities and dealt with by the Industry Ministry are found in Arab authorities. And when there are no industrial zones, there is no development, no jobs, no sources of income for Arab local authorities from municipal property taxes.

In the Communications Ministry there is not a single Arab worker. In the National Infrastructures Ministry there are only two Arab workers. Even those who are employed in government offices - some 6.1 percent of the total - fill jobs of health services, social or religious affairs, or education, but not one is in a senior position that determines policy.

No less troubling from the Sikkuy report - or rather from a pre-release comment - was the difficulty that its personnel had getting information from government offices. They failed to get answers to their questions, and when they did, the answers were evasive and incomplete, making a mockery of the freedom of information - which should be dealt with by the attorney general Elyakim Rubinstein.

A democracy's strength lies in its continual checks and constant critique of the workings of government, so that when the government ministries themselves hide information, it becomes impossible to know or correct, and the democracy's strength is compromised.

It will continue until an unavoidable crisis is reached, and then everyone will say - "but how were we to know; no-one told us it was this bad."