|Written by Ruby Ong|
27 September 2011
Something Good Happened Here
I landed in Israel last Friday. On the road to Jerusalem the first thing I noticed was that the right-wing posters that used to mar the landscape have been replaced. Now, the signs asked for participation in the “March of the Million,” and the graffiti spelled Ha-am doresh tzedak chevrati … The People Want Social Justice. Despite the ongoing attacks on the New Israel Fund and our family of organizations, and despite the legislative assault on Israeli democracy, this is a different Israel than the one I left four months ago.
In fact, a bemused Rachel Liel, our Executive Director in Israel, welcomed me to our office and remarked that I would soon notice that most of our staff was walking inches off the ground. And indeed they were.
On Shabbat, I visited with family. An eighteen year-old cousin, serving in the army, came home to see me and grinned as I told her about my delight and surprise in the change of atmosphere. “Something good happened in this country,” she said.
Even the uncertainties about “September,” the UN maneuverings, could not dampen the sense of change in this country. Nothing is quiescent, nothing is low-profile in our sector. The social justice protest was never a creation of the New Israel Fund – actually, we brilliant experts in social change didn’t see it coming this way, at this time, any more than the government or the media did. But now we are working with other progressive Israelis to sustain this movement, channel its energies, assist in developing new strategies, and continue the inclusive, broad-based spirit that captivated so many Israelis.
From our vantage point in the US it is hard to understand the seismic quality of what happened here. Every organization we work with is energized, is thinking, is participating.
Something good happened in this country. Our values are again regarded as mainstream in Israel, challenging those of fear and exclusion that have seemed dominant for too long.
I have never been more optimistic that the social justice protests will enable Israelis to eventually ask the hardest questions of themselves – and find the hard, and right, answers.
Something good happened in this country. As our video greeting told you – Justice. Equality. Pluralism. Democracy.And we at the New Israel Fund wish everything good for you, too, in the New Year. L’shanah tovah.