|WikiRights: A SHATIL Fellow Helps Israelis Realize their Rights|
A remarkable initiative is underway thanks to Erez Perlmuter, a fellow from the first cycle of SHATIL’s Economic and Social Policy Shapers Program. Motivated by the course content and his placement at the Community Advocacy organization, this “high techie” and his colleague Amitay Korn decided to apply their new-found interest in civil rights to their high tech professional background. The initiative outlines and explains to Israelis the rights to which they are entitled but all-too-often fail to realize despite pressing needs. After a test run, Kol Zchut, or All Rights, was launched last week. The site www.kolzchut.org.il (in Hebrew) also instructs users on how to realize their rights in a straightforward and accessible manner.
"The information on the site is relevant and useful for all residents of Israel," says Perlumutter. Eran Klein, director SHATIL's National Budget Project, adds: "This is an initiative that allows each of us to identify and help actualize his or her rights. It is a genuine social "start-up" that brings together, under one roof, diverse content areas while employing effective methods to encourage realization of rights."
The initiative is a nonprofit venture and involves academic experts on citizens’ rights as well as government bodies, civil society and private citizens as partners. SHATIL staff guided the initiative from its birth to its launch and NIF was among the first to recognize the value of the initiative by awarding a grant to the nonprofit organization founded to develop the site.
The site is based on the technology behind Wikipedia and is structured so that groups of experts may upload information. Users may use a special mechanism for correcting errors. The site also has a Hebrew-language Facebook page.
The first areas to be uploaded are employment rights, the rights of Holocaust survivors and of foreign (guest) workers. Among the areas currently being prepared are the rights of senior citizens, people with disabilities and more. In the near future, the rights of other groups, such as widows, prisoners, discharged soldiers, working youth, and in other areas such as health, housing, education and more will be made available.
In addition to ordinary residents, the site targets people who work or volunteer with various populations in national government offices, municipalities and NGOs, who often don’t have access to the full range of information needed to help their clients.
The second round of the Social and Economic Policy Shapers program opened last week with 17 participants from diverse professional backgrounds, hailing from institutions such as the Ministry of Education, Ministry for Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Employment. "The first meeting was promising. It is exciting to engage professionals who have lots to offer us in Israel's social change movement, and I'm confident that the exchange will be beneficial for all," says Klein, who also directs the program.