|SHATIL Hearing Furthers Social Protest|
|Written by Ruby Ong|
"An important goal has been achieved: the mobilization of a critical mass of Israelis in a campaign for social justice, a critical mass which will engage in future struggles.… The seeds have been planted, and a new reality created." Speaking at a public hearing organized by SHATIL and Tel Aviv University’s School of Government and Policy, Professor Yossi Yona addressed the importance of the current social protests in Israel. Yona co-chairs the Alternative Experts Committees, comprising task-forces of academics and professionals recruited by grassroots activists to devise more equitable socioeconomic policies.
With 150 people in attendance, the hearing allowed social activists, academics and diverse citizens to participate in the initiative and also to submit written statements. Among the topics broached were: the enforcement of minimum wage regulations, violations of workers' rights, privatization of vital health and social services, promotion of micro-businesses, problematic regulations affecting freelancers and small-business owners, and the need to inform disadvantaged communities of their rights. "The inputs and the presentation of the issues at hand, coming from audiences so diverse, is invaluable to our work," said one committee member.
Five committees were convened during the event, with each addressing one of five central areas pertinent to creating a more just society: housing, employment, the social safety net, health, and the creation of a socioeconomic vision for Israeli society. A sixth committee on social welfare was convened in Netanya that same evening, with SHATIL staff playing an important role in its facilitation. SHATIL's assistance to the Committees is focused on fostering widespread citizen participation and engagement in the Committees' work. Said SHATIL's Avi Dabush, "The hearing was impressive. We are now looking forward to continue building frameworks for a participatory democracy, the development of which is an important achievement of the protests."
The public hearing augmented a range of additional SHATIL efforts to leverage the remarkable awakening that is engulfing Israeli society. These efforts include the publication and distribution of The Guide to Tent-camp Campaigning, effective initiatives to involve immigrant, ultra-Orthodox and Arab Israeli communities in the protests, and intense media and advocacy work to bring to the forefront the demand for genuine changes in Israel so it can continue on the path toward creating a more just and equitable society.