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06 January 2011 E-Newsletter


Message from Daniel Sokatch

These are tough but also inspiring times for progressive supporters of Israel.  Those of us who cherish the forward-thinking, outward-looking, democratic and prophetic vision enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence work to protect this vision from proponents of harsh, exclusionary ultra-nationalism.  2010 saw a raft of anti-democratic bills, still pending in the Knesset, that would require loyalty oaths for non-Jews, de-fund and demonize human rights organizations,  and strip non-Orthodox rabbis of the authority to preside over State-recognized conversions.  And just yesterday, the Knesset plenum approved the proposal of Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party to set up a parliamentary committee to investigate Israeli human rights organizations that monitor IDF actions.

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Katsav’s Conviction a Win for Women’s Rights and the Rule of Law

On Thursday, after a long and arduous judicial process, former Israeli president Moshe Katsav was convicted for rape and sexual harassment. 

The verdict validated Israel’s democratic institutions and demonstrated that no one – not even Israel’s leaders – is above the law.  The conviction was also a victory for the women’s rights organizations of the NIF family. Despite the sadness and shame of the conviction, many Israelis see it as a vindication of the right of women to live in equality, dignity and safety.

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Clean Air Law Comes Into Force

Israel’s long-awaited Clean Air Law came into effect on January 1, 2011. The Law was enacted in 2008 following the initiative of NIF grantee Israel Union of Environmental Defense (IUED), which formulated the law, spent five years lobbying for its passage and campaigned with other NIF-supported green organizations to court public opinion. IUED is supported by NIF through the Green Environment Fund.

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Jerusalem United as 160 Arab and Jewish Children Come Together

One hundred and sixty Jewish and Arab children from neighborhoods throughout Jerusalem took part in a unique soccer tournament called "Football for All" to mark the end of International Human Rights Week on December 18. The tournament was organized by Hapoel Katamon Jerusalem, one of three professional teams in Israel set up by fans, and supported and funded by NIF's Kick Racism Out of Israeli Football campaign.

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Government Minister and MK's support third sector's work for women's equality in workplace

SHATIL's targeted campaign to combat gender inequalities in the public sector took a significant step forward as a top Ministry of Finance official declared support, and more than 200 members of Knesset, academics, social change activists and other concerned citizens gathered to raise and debate the issues last week. The conference "Privatized and Unionizing: Women's Employment in an Era of Privatization," held under the aegis of SHATIL's Equality and Dignity in the Workplace Initiative, also raised the issue of the disproportionate and adverse effects of outsourcing on women – especially in the most underserved communities.

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"If I can't dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution"

On a recent weekday, 40 students astonished passersby at Hebrew University when they suddenly began dancing in the middle of one of the busiest campus thoroughfares. Forty dancers performed to a popular Black Eyed Peas song blended with "Demokrati" from the hit 1970's film, Kasablan, a kind of Israeli West Side Story.

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$250 million to Israeli social change groups since 1979.