We live together, we work together, and when there is a siren, we run to the bomb shelter together.

Adi Marcus
Jan 31, 2024

The effect of the October 7 attack on Israel and the consequent war had an extensive impact on the workers in Israel.  The Division for Equality Promotion, which is the first point of contact in the Histadrut for Arab Israeli workers wanting to discuss inclusion matters, is asked to support workers facing new and profound challenges.

The indiscriminate attacks of October 7 that perpetuated heinous violence against Israelis of all backgrounds – Muslims, Arabs, Jews (and foreigners) alike, created an utter shock amongst all Israelis, including the Arab Israelis. Whilst the entire country is experiencing deep grief and reconfiguring our emotions and sense of safety, Arab Israelis experience additional profound complexities in their communities, in their everyday lives, and at the workplace.

The Histadrut has received many calls asking for support navigating grey areas and discussing the new (and reemerged) needs of Arab workers.

In one of the calls with a Muslim worker who wears a hijab, she commented that on her way to work, taking the train, she feels like a “suspicious object.” Even though there is an understanding of the elevated fear of people after the inhumane attacks people experienced, this worker now constantly feels like a suspect in public spaces. When she arrives at work, she is carrying additional anxiety, and that needs to be understood, and she needs to be supported.    

Another worker called to seek advice in dealing with the repeated requests to discuss his views on the situation at the workplace. Whilst engaging in conversations that aim to promote mutual understanding and support amongst colleagues is desirable, the nature of questions and the elevated frequency with which he is asked to comment on the war is felt as a request of confessionalism. He told the Histadrut representative that since the war began, he decided to stray from social media and keep quiet. Given the complexity he feels, as a person who has family connections and a historical shared identity with Palestinians of Gaza but is also an Israeli who is shocked by the October 7 atrocities, he worries that his colleagues might not well receive the complexity of his emotions and views.

Facing similar complexities and experiences, many Arab workers feel compelled to proactively and regularly condemn Hamas to clear their reputation. This, even though they might have been working alongside those colleagues for years and never have portrayed opinions nor done anything against their fellow Jewish workers.

The Division for Equality Promotion is working not only to support individuals but to create greater inclusion and unity in workplaces out of the belief that all workers need to feel emotional, physical, and economic safety.

The Histadrut Chairman, Arnon Bar-David, said: “The Histadrut is the home of all workers in Israel. We represent everyone – Jews, Arabs, Druze, Haredim, everyone. October 7th is a disaster that befell us all, and we saw that Hamas does not distinguish between Jewish Israelis and Arab Israelis. The new reality is indeed complex, and the emotions and fears of all Israelis are on the edge, but we all need to remember that Jewish and Arab Israelis have been working side by side for many years in the workplace. This is a point of pride and an advantage for Israeli society, the entire economy, and the Histadrut. We are all in this together. We are all part of the same home. The Histadrut will continue to provide response and support to all workers in Israel.

Aziz Basiony, Chairman of the Division for Equality Promotion, said: “The workplace is where we spend most of our day. Diversity, inclusion and unity at the workplace is important to the workers wellbeing and to the resiliance and innovation of the market. We came out with the campaign We live together! We work together! to remind and strengthen workers in Israel.”

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