Israeli bank makes history, appoints Arab to senior position

One of Israel’s largest banks made history last week when it named an Israeli Arab chairman of the board of directors, the first time an Israeli-Arab has been named to a senior position at major Israeli bank.

Samer Haj Yehia, a 49-year-old economist, still lives in  Tayibe, an Arab city in central Israel.

The move shatters a glass ceiling while raising prospects for successful inclusion of Israeli Arabs into majority-Jewish Israeli society. Aida Touma-Sliman said it actually wasn’t a glass ceiling, but a concrete one.

“I hope the appointment leads to a breaking of stereotypes. Israeli society has to understand that the young generation in the Arab sector can leverage [Israeli society],” she said.

Knesset member Ahmed Tibi, a virulent anti-Israel politician in the parliament, who rarely has anything positive to say about Israel, also praised Haj Yehia’s appointment saying it was based on merit.

“Samer is very talented. He broke the glass ceiling and will serve as a model for young people in Arab society. He is the right person in the right place.”