A social campaign in support of Arab-owned businessed in Israel and the West Bank drew large crowds to a series of events of the past week, meant to offset calls to boycott them following a spike in Jewish-Arab violence across the country last month.
The “National Palestinian Economy Week” campaign, which is set to end on Sunday, was conceived over social media mainly by young social activists from the Arab community.
“The campaign aims to strengthen the Palestinian economy, much of which was exposed to calls for boycott due to the recent [violence between Jews and Arabs],” Rabia ‘Eid, project head for the Haifa-based NGO Arab Culture, said.
“We were surprised by the number of people who attended the first event in Haifa, some 2,000 people, and we are considering making the campaign a permanent program. We saw that there is huge economic potential. It also opens doors for young people who are dreaming of starting businesses and strengthens the standing of new businesses,” he added.
Sameeh Suki from Jaljulya, who is also running the campaign said that “Beyond economic interests, the goal of our campaign was to affirm our Palestinian identity in this country through cultural-social activity. This is one step forward in preserving the Palestinian-Arab heritage, and we saw that people are thirsting for such steps.”
The campaign not only raised political awareness among youngsters, but also supported Arab business, Suki said.
The town of Kafr Qasem, east of Tel Aviv, also took part in the project. According to local activist Haitham Amar, the campaign manifests a “social protest” and it was initiated by social movements which has no political affiliation.
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“In light of the political situation and the incitement against the Arab community by the Israeli government, lawmakers and Jewish Israelis,” the campaign, Ammar said, was intended to show that the Arab community is an “economic power that cannot be ignored.”