Adalah demands Arab aid groups receive fair share of Israeli government's 'kamcha depascha' grants

Israel's economic sidelining of Arab aid groups – which receive just 0.1% of key food aid grant – deepens socio-economic gaps and impoverishment of Palestinian Arab society in Israel.

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel is demanding that Israel's Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Social Services grant a fair share of its "kamcha depascha" budgetary grants to Arab aid societies – a sum ordinarily amounting to some nine million shekels (~US$2.8 million) annually.


Kamcha depascha is the Aramaic name for the Jewish custom of providing the needy with financial assistance and/or food supplies before the Passover holiday.


The ministry provides nine million shekels in kamcha depascha grants to non-governmental organizations for distribution to the needy twice annually. In response to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the grant was doubled and a total of 18 million shekels (~US$5.5 million) was distributed to NGOs and civil institutions.


According to Israeli government statistics, almost half of Palestinian citizens of Israel suffer from poverty. But, according to data Adalah Attorney Nareman Shehadeh-Zoabi obtained from the Israeli ministry, just 8,585 shekels (~US$2,600) – less than 0.1 percent of the kamcha depascha grant – was funneled to a key Arab aid organization in 2019.


This data indicates blatant discrimination on the part of an Israeli government ministry against Palestinian citizens of Israel. Israel's failure to allocate proportionately-equal budgets for combatting poverty in the Arab community, particularly during the COVID-19 crisis, is indicative of the state's racism and continued marginalization of Palestinian citizens.


Based on additional data for 2020 provided by the Israeli ministry itself, Shehadeh-Zoabi discovered that 2019's blatant budgetary discrimination was neither a coincidence nor a mistake: Again in 2020, just 0.1 percent of the 18 million shekel kamcha depascha grant was provided to the Arab aid organizations that serve over 20 percent of the country's population.


Adalah's appeals to the ministry stressed that the terms and conditions for obtaining the grant are problematic and result in the budgetary marginalization of and discrimination against Arab citizens and Arab aid organizations.


Adalah demanded the Israeli Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Social Services immediately review and update the terms and conditions for securing kamcha depascha grants in a manner that ensures equality and food security for Palestinian citizens of Israel.


Adalah Attorney Nareman Shehadeh-Zoabi commented:


"Israel's economic sidelining of Arab aid societies leads to deepening gaps in the economic and social sphere and perpetuates a policy intended to ensure the continued impoverishment of and discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel. The ministry must be held accountable for its decades-long failure to support vulnerable communities and must find immediate solutions for the needy – regardless of their ethnicity or national affiliation."