Without Youth Aliyah Child Rescue, they would just have been labelled ‘Ethiopian’
Around the world, people are realising the impact that systemic racism has on individuals and on society.
Israel is no different.
The discrimination that the Ethiopian-Israeli community have faced has contributed to cycles of poverty, unemployment and violence in the country. In recent years, following a number of high-profile cases, many have turned to the streets, the courts and the media to seek justice and equality.
Championing diversity, celebrating cultural differences
In our youth villages we have always taught understanding and acceptance, seeking to integrate vulnerable and at risk children from diverse cultures by honouring and elevating each child’s background, rather than trying to erase where they have come from. We champion diversity and provide skills training, education and opportunities that enable them to compete on a level playing field with their Israeli peers and to thrive in the outside world when they graduate from the youth village that they come to call home.
With national military service in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) being mandatory for all Israeli citizens over the age of 18 – and the role and rank obtained carrying a huge influence on their ability to find future employment and access the right networks – the importance of immigrants or children of immigrants being equipped to overcome barriers to a successful career in the army cannot be understated.
Youth Aliyah Child Rescue provides those that would otherwise be disadvantaged by their backgrounds with tools to boost their self-esteem and extra support with education and life skills. Our Mechina programmes prepare participants with outstanding leadership and communication skills that they will use in the IDF and throughout their lives. Our graduates have, in theory, an equal chance of being recognised for their potential to progress through the ranks to more senior roles, rather than being trapped in low-level positions with limited room for personal development.
“The programme that Youth Aliyah Child Rescue has introduced has changed the way many of our officers think and behave within the police force. There is no place for discrimination, prejudice or racial profiling when we are out doing our jobs”
Orli, border police officer
Tackling systemic racism
We are incredibly proud that our youth villages and Mechina programmes prepare at risk children, the majority of whom are first- and second-generation immigrants, with the skills and confidence they need to take on the big wide world. They learn with us to draw strength from their diverse backgrounds, and that their differences should not limit them.
However, if institutions such as the IDF and other prominent organisations such as the police, border police and prison system are not themselves trained in how to see beyond racial stereotypes and prejudices, then nothing will ever change.
That is why for the last three years, Youth Aliyah Child Rescue has been supporting the Village Way in delivering a groundbreaking training programme specifically designed to tackle systemic racism across Israeli institutions. The only way to truly embed change is to work as we have been doing: in partnership with the IDF, the border police, and the prison system to address, challenge and positively influence process, management and behaviour from the inside out.
Working together, we are teaching organisations and individuals how to see through the ‘immigrant’ label and beyond deep-rooted prejudices, so that everybody is treated fairly and equally.
Of course, it takes longer than three years to dismantle racism, but already the results are significant. These cornerstones of Israeli infrastructure are creating a fairer and more just society, whilst helping employers to identify a wealth of new talent and skills from young people who were previously being overlooked.
Were it not for the work of Youth Aliyah Child Rescue across our youth villages and programmes, IDF soldiers such as Irit, Golda and Shiri – pictured on the front cover of this leaflet – may never have had the opportunity to serve their country so well and benefit the society they are extremely proud to be part of.
This Rosh Hashanah, join us in continuing to bring tangible, credible change in Israel. We must ensure that we keep providing everything that at risk young people in our villages and schools need in order to leave engaged, passionate and capable – whilst also doing our bit to ensure that Israeli society is prepared to embrace them when they do.
The demand from organisations in Israel for us to deliver our proven programme of success nationally is increasing all the time, but the cost to do so is high. Donating to our Rosh Hashanah appeal means that, whilst some others look at the problems of systemic racism in the world but feel unempowered to do anything about it, you can be a part of the solution, helping to create a fundamentally better Israel.