AlManarah: The Association for Persons with Disabilities
AlManarah is the Association for Persons with Disabilities and the first Arab organization of its kind in Israel. It was launched in 2005 by a group of grassroots activists led by Adv. Abbass Abbass, who is himself a person with a visual disability since birth. The name in Arabic means “The Lighthouse”, reflecting AlManarah’s ambition to serve as a lighthouse of information and resources about disability rights and to lead the way forward for civil society organizations and for the general public in Israel, the Arab world, and worldwide.
There are more than 400,000 Arab persons with disabilities in Israel—nearly a quarter of the total Arab population—according to the research of the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute. These people suffer social exclusion and a lack of access to essential resources. AlManarah seeks to transform widespread negative attitudes by empowering persons with disabilities to become their own best advocates. Each year, thousands of disabled and non-disabled persons from Arab communities benefit from AlManarah’s social activities, training courses, and legal advocacy. For the last ten years, AlManarah has worked to advance the legal and social status of Arab persons with disabilities in Israel, and it will continue to do so until full equality has been achieved.
AlManarah’s vision is a society where Arab persons with disabilities, empowered and with the necessary skills, are full and equal participants in all spheres of life, free from all manifestations of prejudice, discrimination, and marginalization. It is the strong conviction of AlManarah that, with encouragement, guidance and the requisite technical resources, Arab persons with disabilities will develop the tools and skills to participate within society not as a disenfranchised minority but as confident citizens offering distinct and vital contributions. AlManarah enables Arab persons with disabilities to set an agenda for their own learning, realize their full potential, and contribute to a vibrant community as capable and determined peers.
Underlying of AlManarah’s work are the principles of dignity, equal opportunity, integration, and independence for persons with disabilities. Through the promotion of social awareness, strategic legal advocacy, and courses within its Centre for Independent Living, AlManarah works with Arab persons with disabilities—with a strong focus on women and youth—so that they can access education, employment, and public services. AlManarah’s work additionally enhances cooperation between Jewish and Arab civil society organizations that advocate for persons with disabilities, and provides legal leverage for the enforcement of domestic and international disability rights laws. Although AlManarah’s impact is felt throughout Israel, AlManarah remains deeply rooted to its community in Nazareth and the surrounding region. Persons with disabilities from the local community lead the design and implementation of all project activities, in accordance with the rallying cry of the disability rights movement worldwide: Nothing About Us Without Us.
IV. Objectives & Goals
AlManarah has three main objectives:
1. To promote a paradigm shift in attitudes toward persons with disabilities: from the dominant medical model in which persons with disabilities are passive objects of compassion and charity, to the social model in which persons with disabilities actively assert their inalienable human rights. To the same end, AlManarah seeks to educate governmental and private sector leaders about the need to include disenfranchised minorities—whether persons with disabilities or members of the Arab minority in Israel—in all decision-making processes that affect their lives.
2. To empower Arab persons with disabilities by providing them with the skills and self-confidence that they need in order to access higher education, employment, and equal participation in their diverse communities.
3. To use the tools of legal advocacy to guarantee implementation of the disability rights protected by Israeli law and by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and specifically to enhance accessibility and freedom from discrimination within the Arab communities in Israel.