August 12, 2009

Arab special needs center in Israel

Israeli President Shimon Peres attended a cornerstone ceremony for Israel's first community for Arab adults with special needs, his office said.

Peres laid a cornerstone Tuesday for the Ziv Nur Democratic High School, a Jewish Arab learning institution that will be the first building in the planned Alfanara village, the president's office said.

Alfanara, which means lighthouse in Arabic, will be built as a twin to Kishorit, a nearby Israeli communal living environment for Jewish people with special needs established 12 years ago, Peres' office said.

The initiative to establish a community for mentally challenged Arab adults, came from Jewish and Arab staff members working at Kishorit, which was built on the principal of equality and the kibbutz model of communal governance, the office said.

The facility provides long time residential services for adults with special needs ranging from schizophrenia to Asperger's and Downs syndromes, Peres' office said.

The Israeli government will finance the basic infrastructure.

Rafa Kareem is expected to run the new Arab community when it opens its doors, said. Kareem told reporters the community will preserve a distinctly Arab cultural way of life with inhabitants working and residing alongside the Jewish community, the Web site said.