Erel Margalit

An open letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Finance Minister Smotrich

Erel Margalit in the New York City Margalit Startup City Cyber-Climate Tech Hub.
(Shahar Azran)
Erel Margalit in the New York City Margalit Startup City Cyber-Climate Tech Hub. (Shahar Azran)

As someone who has been working for over two decades to promote and strengthen the young generation of the State of Israel through education, innovation, entrepreneurship, and the integration of high-tech in the social and geographical periphery of the country, regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion — I feel great shame in the decision to delay the transfer of funds to the Arab authorities and to education and schools in East Jerusalem.

This is not the path of the State of Israel. These are not the values of Judaism and morality by which we were raised.

The narrow-mindedness, arrogance, and patronizing attitude exhibited by the Finance Minister towards the Arab society are deeply troubling. The power to decide which authorities in Israel will receive their rightful budget, and who will be left out, is in your hands, with the knowledge that it is a noose around the neck of Arab society.

Your statement that the transfer of funds will only occur after examination and oversight to ensure they reach their proper destination is a thinly veiled insult and a deliberate attempt to denigrate and undermine the dignity of the residents of East Jerusalem and the Arab authorities.

This decision is discriminatory, condescending, hateful, and has the potential to ignite flames and create a major crisis in Jerusalem and across the country. This decision goes against the opinions of the security forces that support the necessary fund transfer. It’s another contribution to the distorted priorities of the current Israeli government: the security and stability of the political base of the current government – over the security and stability of the whole country and the people.

Instead of freezing budgets and harming communities, I recommend that you go to the field and witness with your own eyes the integration, educational activities, entrepreneurial spirit, and high-tech advancements happening in the Arab society in recent years.

Nearly two decades ago, we established the “In the Community” (BaKehilla) Association, which has changed the lives of over 55,000 children in Israel, both Jewish and Arab, to this day. The “Year of Transition” program we lead in East Jerusalem, along with many other initiatives driven by concerned individuals, are successfully advancing peace and a secure future in Israel and the region. The funds you are withholding are undermining the chances for coexistence and peace in Jerusalem and the region.

On behalf of thousands of children and youth in Israel from the Arab community, in the name of their parents, families, and the community they live in, and on behalf of the young people of East Jerusalem who aspire to be part of Israeli society, to be part of a quality job market, to integrate into Israeli high-tech, to create, and to contribute – I call upon you, the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister, to prevent any delay in transferring funds to the Arab society without any further hesitation.

About the Author
Erel Margalit is an Israeli high-tech investor and social entrepreneur. He is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Jerusalem-based venture capital firm Jerusalem Venture Partners, and Margalit Startup City, the international collection of thematic socio-economic hubs.
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