Social and Economic Justice

Filling the Gaps. Preparing for the Future.

17 July 2014 By New Israel Fund

NIF supports a network of Israeli organizations and activists committed to equality and democracy for Israel. Our partners are on-the-ground promoting democracy, shared society, and tolerance amidst the rockets and cries for revenge.

Below are just some of the examples of the initiatives undertaken with NIF support at this moment of crisis. More examples can be found in this list of Emergency Grants.

--- Help NIF respond to emerging needs, click here to support the Emergency Grant program. ---

(Updated August 4, 2014)

Protecting marginalized communities is what NIF does. We're providing assistance to Israelis living under threat of rocket attack, with a focus on protecting the most vulnerable residents.

  • Ahoti is holding an event focusing on the rifts in Israel society, including the tensions within the Mizrachi community.
  • A SHATIL Situation Room has been mapping and responding to the needs of Israelis living under threat of rocket attack in order to provide emergency advice and assistance to front-line groups.
  • A guide to help civil society organizations cope in emergency situations has been re-issued in Hebrew and Arabic.
  • The Kol Zchut website is providing online information on personal rights (such as labor issues, rights when drafted, benefits in cases of property damage, etc.) during emergency times in Hebrew, Amharic, and Arabic.
  • Ahuzat Negev is recruiting volunteers to help treat trauma victims and reduce stress in bomb shelters.
  • AJEEC–NISPED is training first-aid responders from the Bedouin community.
  • The Reform Movement is recruiting volunteers for crisis centers and developing activities for children and retirees in Be'er Sheva, Sderot, and other front-line cities.
  • Bina is holding events for kids and teenagers in Be'er Sheva. They are also running a hospitality initiative for families from the south.
  • ASSAF is providing emergency preparedness instructions to the asylum-seeker population in Israel, in coordination with the Home Front Command.
  • The Masorti Movement (Conservative movement) opened up a hotline for rabbis to give support and spiritual guidance to those in distress due to the situation.
  • Havaya is offering assistance to couples whose wedding plans were disrupted due to the situation.
  • Although the High Court denied ACRI’s petition to provide emergency shelters for Negev Bedouin, SHATIL is fostering dialogue between the Bedouin community and homeland authorities tasked with protection. SHATIL is also assisting the Trauma Coalition to mobilize Arabic speaking mental health professionals to assist victims of rocket attacks in Bedouin villages.
  • Kav Laoved is publishing a rights manual for Arab employees following a wave of complaints by Arab workers fired by their Jewish employers due to racism, threats or pressure from other employees or the public, or because of anti-war remarks.

NIF's work for a shared society is playing a significant and visible role in counteracting racism, incitement, and the escalation of violence between Israeli Jews and Arabs. This work is critical now, when there is a growing chasm between these two groups of Israeli citizens.

  • A concert held in the heart of old city Be'er Sheva brought together over 300 Jewish and Arab Israelis.  The concert promoted the sense of a shared society, empowered voices from the south, and brought together Israelis from across the spectrum through art.
  • Arus-El-Bahar held a dialogue session for over 100 Jewish and Palestinian-Israeli women in their Yaffo offices on August 3rd.  Click here for photos.
  • Joint Jewish-Arab break-fast events (for Ramadan and 17 Tammuz) were held in a variety of locations including Sderot, Yerucham, Rahat, Shfaram, and Illabun to strengthen relationships at the grassroots level.
  • A user-generated racism map based on Google's popular Waze traffic app allows anybody with a smart phone to report racist incidents. To promote accountability, the app also tracks how the reports are handled by the authorities.
  • NIF's action-arm SHATIL is identifying shared public spaces -- roads, malls, hospitals, workplaces, etc. -- that serve both Jewish and Arab populations. We're helping local authorities and NGOs to use those spaces to promote a spirit of solidarity.
  • SHATIL is leading a forum of organizations dealing with shared society. The forum is working to intervene when tensions arise and to assist leaders calling for cooperation.
  • A group of school principals and others are developing educational initiatives to combat racism.
  • An anti-racism curriculum for Israeli schools is being prepared by SHATIL with the partnership of other Israeli civil society groups.
  • An alternative Russian language news site acts as a voice for tolerance and mutual respect amongst Russian-speaking Israelis.
  • SHATIL is assisting the Ministry of Justice in better executing its recently announced phone hotline that allows Israelis to report acts of incitement and hate crimes.
  • Awareness for You is staging multiple demonstrations under the banner "Peaceful Neighbors" in the Wadi Ara region where many Arab and Jewish communities share space.
  • Hand in Hand initiated a joint walk for Jewish and Arab families at the end of the Ramadan fast days to bolster feelings of security and to promote togetherness in the public sphere.
  • The Center for Citizens' Empowerment in Yeruham is acting against cases of racism and incitement in the area and responding to reports that Arabs were not being allowed into shelters. At the Center's request, the municipal rabbi issued a statement saying it is against halacha to prevent Arabs from entering shelters. There is now a staff member posted outside every shelter to prevent violence and harassment.
  • A Palestinian-Israeli youth organization is training counselors in nonviolent conflict transformation.
  • The "Red Button" initiative – first-place winners in NIF’s campaign for innovative projects against violence and incitement on social media – launched an app to report violent messages on social networks.
  • The Tag Meir coalition began a campaign calling on the chief rabbis of Israel to make clear and unequivocal public statements condemning all indiscriminate attacks against civilians, punishment, and revenge.
  • ACRI is educating Israelis regarding their rights with respect to their freedom of expression and what to do in cases when employers sanction them for political speech they engaged in on social media. We’ve seen reports of public and private sector employees being punished, as well as students being expelled.
  • The Coalition Against Racism is conducting periodic surveys, every 7 to 10 days, to measure hate speech on the Internet.

In times of conflict, Israel's human rights community plays a critical role in sustaining Israeli democracy. These groups ensure that there is an independent voice reporting on government activity and serve as a check and balance on potential government abuses. They also defend Israelis' right to freedom of speech and expression.

  • Following a letter from ACRI citing freedom of expression and academic expression, the dean at Bar Ilan University retracted his reprimand of a professor in the law faulty. In an email to his students, the professor expressed his desire that his students and their families remain safe amid the conflict. Read more about the incident here.
  • A roundtable with Israel's leading human rights groups is coordinating activities combatting violence on the streets and online, and safeguarding the rights of the public to freedom of speech, assembly, and protest.
  • Flagship NIF grantee ACRI has: collected testimony regarding police violence; contacted the Attorney General about threats and harassment against Palestinians and requested police intervention; spoken out against bombing homes in Gaza; and is offering information and assistance on free speech cases.
  • On July 16th, ACRI petitioned the Supreme Court regarding insufficient protection for Bedouins in the Negev against rockets.
  • NIF grantee B’Tselem is collecting testimonies and information from Gaza and southern Israel as part of its mission to monitor human rights abuses. Additionally, with most Israeli media coverage focusing on incoming rocket attacks from Gaza, B’Tselem is attempting to show Israelis the real circumstances faced by Gazan civilians.
  • 10 Human rights organizations contacted Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein expressing deep concerns about the nature of the attacks within the Gaza Strip and the high rate of civilian casualties. The organizations called on Weinstein to establish an external, independent, and effective investigatory mechanism to examine the decision making of the political and operational establishment as required by international law and supported by the rulings of the High Court of Justice.
  • 12 human rights organizations sent a letter to the Minister of Defense demanding that he abide by Israel's obligation to ensure and fulfill the humanitarian needs of the civilian population in Gaza, in particular with regard to the dwindling supply of water and electricity.
  • Following an activism grant from NIF, the DOCORIGHTS group will video-document violence against left wing protesters from the right and police at demonstrations and work to raise awareness about freedom of speech, expression, and protest.
  • The Council for Peace and Security published a document analyzing the current military operation between Israel and Hamas and suggesting a strategy for a long-term solution.
  • A roundtable of shared society organizations agreed to a joint-effort to: lobby Knesset members about the effects of the war on Arab citizens and Arab –Jewish relations; work with the media to document incitement and racist remarks; and promote a space for the Palestinian-Israeli perspective and speakers.

--- Help NIF respond to emerging needs, click here to support the Emergency Grant program. ---