COEXISTENCE IN THE ISRAELI MEDIA
CAF began its work in the Israeli media in 2001. According to official figures at the time, Arabs only represented 0.3% of the Israeli (Hebrew) media industry. Whereas Arab affairs were generally covered in the Arab press, CAF found that Jewish journalists tended to be disconnected from, and unfamiliar with, happenings in the Arab sector.
From 2003 to 2009 CAF produced and published Du-Et, a Hebrew-Arabic newspaper that provided a rare and much needed opportunity for Jewish-Arab communication. The first issue of Du-Et was published in October of 2003, with an estimated readership of 900,000.
In 2007 Du-Et formed a partnership with Ha’aretz, one of the major daily newspapers in Israel. In June of that year a Du-Et special feature on Israel's most prosperous Arab business leaders was published alongside a feature on Israel’s most prosperous Jewish business leaders in "The Marker," Ha'aretz's prestigious business supplement. This first-time inclusion of Arab business leaders in Israel's most popular business magazine was very well received by the Israeli business community. This special edition of "The Marker" and Du-Et resulted in new prospects for commercial cooperation between Jewish and Arab businesses.
Click here for access to past Du-Et issues.
A related project that built on the momentum of the Du-Et newspaper is a training and mentorship program in one of Israel’s major Hebrew media outlets, Keshet Television Production Company. The fellowship enabled talented Arab journalists to advance their careers, and at the same time created important opportunities for Israel’s public to become acquainted with the Arab society and its popular culture.
During 2006 and 2007, seven young Arab journalists pursued professional training and mentoring with Keshet and Du-Et. Fellows received a monthly stipend, and worked within different departments and programs at Keshet; one fellow was was placed in the largest news company in Israel, Channel 2 News. According to Keshet Program Manager Udi Leon, the Du-Et Fellowship Program broke through a longstanding prejudice in the media establishment. The false belief was that the appearance of Arabs on prime time shows would drastically reduce ratings, but the opposite has proven true. The involvement of these journalists in Israeli television program development has resulted in the groundbreaking inclusion of Arab participants in popular prime-time shows.
As a result, Arab families were featured in the Israeli version of Supernanny and in other reality shows. Episodes featuring Arab families received extremely high ratings and provoked much debate in the Israeli media. Also, an Arab candidate participated for the first time in Kochav Nolad (A Star is Born), the Israeli version of American Idol, and was among the season's finalists. Her participation also won considerable media attention. Du-Et fellows were the prime movers behind all of these initiatives.
At the end of the eight-month program, Du-Et and Keshet helped the fellows find employment in the Israeli media.
JEWISH-ARAB PRESS CLUB
In response to the polarizing effect of the separate media industries, CAF established the Jewish-Arab Press Club in 2002. The Club’s members and leaders included such leading figures as the editor of major Arabic newspapers Kul-al-Arab and Panorama, prominent journalists from top Israeli/Hebrew newspapers Ma’ariv and Ha’aretz , as well as the managers of Israel Radio and one of Israel’s top television stations, Channel 2. The Press Club has been at the forefront of all CAF media initiatives.
JEWISH-ARAB EDITORS' COMMITTEE
In 2004, the CAF set up the Jewish-Arab Editors’ Committee to promote Jewish-Arab relations as an item on the national agenda through the media. The committee also served to expand Israel’s Arab journalists' access to government officials and decision-makers.
AVODA ARAVIT (ARAB LABOR)
Building on these milestones, the Israeli comedy series Avoda Aravit (Arab Labor) made its primetime premier on the major Israeli network, Channel 2, in 2007. The show, created by journalist/author Sayed Kashua, offers a satirical take on Israel's mixed society by poking fun at Israel's religious, political, and cultural differences. It is the first sitcom featuring mainly Arab characters speaking in Arabic on Israeli prime time, and it generated great controversy between Arab and Israeli media. Avoda Aravit's second season aired in 2008, and the show made a comeback in 2012 with the premier of its third season. CAF played an advisory role in the creation of this cutting edge series, and CAF co-Director Udi Cohen was a member of the show's founding steering committee.