On my wall hangs a poster divided into two panels. In the first, a big fish, mouth open and teeth bared, chases a group of smaller fish, which desperately flee in all directions. In the second, the tables have turned: the small fish have arranged themselves into an even bigger fish, made up of many parts, that now gives chase to the suddenly not-so-big fish. The caption reads: "Organize!"
That is the theme of this week's NIF news. At a time when the organizations that safeguard Israeli civil society are under assault by those for whom openness, equality and pluralism are anathema, the NIF family of organizations has come together like never before to push back, and to stand up for justice. And you – the NIF family of supporters - have been right there with us. As you will read, we are organized, and we will win. Here are just a few examples of how we – together – are working to build a better Israel right now:
- Together, our Shatil-initiated Coalition for Responsible Planning is leading the charge against a proposed law that would severely reduce Israel's scarce green space, reduce community input into planning decisions, and increase socio-economic inequality.
- Together, the NIF-family of organizations is fighting to stop another bad bill, this one reversing a High Court decision recognizing non-Orthodox conversions in Israel, and furthering the Orthodox monopoly on Judaism there.
- Together, Israeli Bedouin women from the Negev joined hundreds of Arab women and men in Nazareth to protest so-called "honor" killings in their communities. The women were organized by NIF-Shatil's Bedouin Women's Leadership Project, which is run in partnership with Ma'an, the Forum of Arab Women's Organizations in the Negev. It is funded by NIF in partnership with the United States State Department, and we are extremely proud that a program site was visited last week by Dr. Jill Biden, wife of the Vice President.
It is almost Pesach. We are preparing to celebrate what I believe to be the Jewish people's greatest gift to humanity: the story of the Exodus, the idea that, no matter how dark the night, hope and liberation are always possible.
Yes, it is a difficult time for Israeli democracy and civil society. The values of equality and justice, of a Jewish and democratic state, enshrined in the Israeli Declaration of Independence are under threat. But there are tens of thousands of us – in Israel, North America and beyond – who believe that those values are worth fighting for. That is what NIF has done for thirty years. With your help, we will continue to do it for thirty more. We are ready to stand up and speak out for the Israel we love and believe in. And we are organized.
Photo courtesy of beautifulcataya