In early July 2022, State Comptroller and Ombudsman, Matanyahu Engelman, participated from afar in a hybrid international conference on Mediation and Conflict Solution organized by the Ombudsman Institution of Santa Fe, Argentina.
A special session was devoted to the State Comptroller and Ombudsman of Israel, on the “multicultural approach to conflict”. In his comments, the Comptroller told conference participants from around the world of the Ombudsman’s activity, with emphasis on cultural and social aspects in handling complaints and resolving disputes.
The ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity of Israeli society, in which Jews (including immigrants from many different countries), Muslims, Christians, and Druze live alongside each other, poses many challenges: language barriers, differences in customs, and cultural gaps between the different ethnic groups and sectors that constitute the Israeli mosaic, as well as gaps of access to digital services.
When addressing the complaints brought before it, the Ombudsmanship must often take into account the unique characteristics of the complainants, who belong to the various groups and sectors.
The Comptroller reviewed the ways in which the Ombudsmanship succeeds in making its services accessible. Thus, for example, the Ombudsmanship in the Community program is designed to expand the activity of Ombudsman bureaus in periphery towns, and thus encourage citizens to stand up for their rights and file a complaint, if needed.
The State Comptroller also told in the conference of the assistance given by the Ombudsmanship in recent months to immigrants and refugees from Ukraine in Israel: “The Ombudsmanship operates in the absorption centers, provides and shall keep providing assistance to the immigrants and refugees who came from Ukraine in wake of the war there.”