|Written by Ruby Ong|
14 July 2011
Endangered and Encouraged
As I write these words, the headlines on Israeli news websites are about the American Jewish consensus against the Boycott Law passed by the Knesset on Monday. With help from NIF, within a day of the law passing, hundreds of protest emails were sent to the Israeli Ambassador to the US. And, of course, we stand solidly behind the organizations who have already petitioned Israel's Supreme Court to overturn the law.
To our regret, the Boycott Law is not the first initiative and won't be the last exemplifying the anti-democratic trend in the Knesset. Next week, a bill will again be considered to set up a parliamentary committee of enquiry into the activities of left-wing organizations, and today we heard about a proposed new Knesset bill that would disqualify candidates to be High Court justices, if their views do not reflect those of the current Knesset.
We at NIF and SHATIL, in full cooperation with a large network of organizations, are working intensively together on all fronts to struggle against these trends. We can draw a certain encouragement from the sense that there is a powerful groundswell in the Israeli public, which is becoming increasingly aroused and is responding to the dangerous series of events here. We see the many reactions in the media and the number of talkbacks, and the large number of new people who are taking an interest and expressing their readiness to become active via the social networks. At present, we are working to harness this energy and initiative to organize and to influence.
And even from all of this, there is some good news. At the start of this month, we conducted discussions at NIF's biannual international board meeting, where it was to decided to disburse grants worth $4 million to organizations supported by NIF that are working in the areas of social justice, religious pluralism, and human rights. Fourteen new organizations have joined the NIF family, and can be added to the many others working with the assistance of NIF against worrying trends such as Israel's widening social gaps and the many attempts to reduce our basic freedoms.
NIF, SHATIL and civil society organizations have recorded many achievements over the years. Behind these achievements stand individuals and one very special such person is Professor Alice Shalvi, the founder of the Israel Women’s Network and a member of NIF's International Council. At a festive ceremony in Jerusalem, in the presence of NIF's Board, family and friends, Professor Shalvi received NIF's social leadership award, and the Dafna Fund Prize for feminist leadership. For me, as for many other women, Alice is a model of leadership and belief in the righteousness of our path, sometimes against all odds.
I feel especially grateful for the encouragement we are getting, especially during these very difficult days, from our supporters in Israel, in America and around the world. Your partnership strengthens us and enables us to persevere with our daily work. For this I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I pledge to continue to direct and to lead the struggle for a free and just Israel.
Executive Director in Israel