Dirasat, the Arab Center for Law and Policy was established in late 2006 to address the vast need for improvement in the socio-economic status and the general attainment of substantive equality of all members of Israeli society (majority-minority; men and women), at both the individual and collective levels. Specifically, Dirasat focuses on the challenges facing Israel's Arab-Palestinian minority citizens, who comprise nearly 20 percent of the state's population. Currently, Arab-Palestinian localities consistently rank in the lowest socio-economic echelons of Israeli society, and continue to be characterized by high unemployment rates, inadequate infrastructure and the absence of significant economic development.
Dirasat was established by a group of young Arab policy leaders, intellectuals and social activists, who are motivated by the belief that meeting the challenges of engendering full equality and substantive citizenship for the Arab minority requires moving beyond the intense work of responding to daily rights violations. It demands adopting proactive strategies and formulating viable alternatives to existing frameworks of the State’s laws and policies. If substantive citizenship is to be realized, these alternatives must be underpinned in clear strategic goals with regard to the status of the Arab minority and its relationship to the State.
Dirasat endeavors to achieve these goals through strategic planning, applied research that can inform both the internal (within the Arab minority) decision-making processes regarding strategic goal-setting and the external decision-making processes (at the state level), publication of position papers recommending concrete law and policy reforms, dissemination of up-to-date and useful data and information to bolster advocacy efforts, and provision of capacity-building and skills training among the Arab-Palestinian minority rights community. Dirasat is taking on the key role that similar organizations around the world have played at key moments in history in building equality for all the citizens of its state.
In this sense, Dirasat endeavor adds significant leverage to the litigation and advocacy work of both Arab and human rights organizations in Israel, as it provides a fresh perspective on the types of laws and policies needed to ensure full equality and participation of the Arab-Palestinian citizens in the state. Furthermore, all of the Center's activities are carefully designed to involve the community and solicit its input toward the goal of ensuring that its programs remain constantly relevant to the community's needs and priorities.