Arab citizens of Israel are working in high-tech fields in record numbers, thanks in part to the U.S. Embassy in Israel’s partnership with local businesses, civil society organizations, U.S. government exchange alumni and the Israeli government.
Joining these partners in an ongoing effort to improve economic opportunities in Israel, the U.S. Embassy funds training for engineers, exposing people from marginalized communities to high-tech ecosystems. The embassy also promotes new high-tech companies in Arab towns, such as by co-organizing the first U.S.-Israel Investor Conference for Arab Startups in Nazareth in 2018.
Such economic development helps bring jobs and investment to Arab and Palestinian communities.
Speaking at the Nazareth High-Tech Investor Conference, U.S. Ambassador David Friedman said, “In the long term, peace in this region depends on the economic development and cooperation of people like you — Arabs, Jews, secular, religious, Israelis and Palestinians.”
His embassy’s efforts are getting results.
Over the past 11 years, the number of Arab citizens working as high-tech engineers has gone up twentyfold to nearly 7,000. And hundreds of new Arab engineers continue to join Israel’s high-tech industry every year.
The trend is likely to continue, in part because the number of students enrolled in technology-related coursework is growing. According to Tsofen, an Israeli technology nongovernmental organization, the number of Arabs studying technology has doubled in six years.
University and corporate campuses are connecting Arab and Jewish Israelis, government stakeholders and Arab communities in ways that help fight discrimination and build positive relationships.
“One lesson we have learned in the United States is that, when we value diversity and social inclusion, we create stronger and more cohesive communities that contribute more to the growth and prosperity of the entire country,” Friedman wrote in a 2018 essay. “Israel’s economy and its social fabric stand to benefit significantly from tapping into the well of strength and ingenuity found in the Arab community.”
At the conference, Friedman said, “The more we work together, the more we strengthen the foundation for a lasting peace in a land that has longed for such peace for far too long.”