|SHATIL & Israel’s new awakening|
|Written by Ruby Ong|
It's been a long time coming.
"The People! Demand! Social Justice!!" The rhythmic and heartfelt cry is now reverberating among hundreds of thousands of Israelis from all walks of life and in every media outlet. On Saturday night, August 6, 300,000 people participated in mass protests throughout the country – with continuing rallies and new tent encampments erected daily. The Israeli public is finally standing up for its rights and asserting its longing for a more just and equitable society – something that NIF and SHATIL have supported for more than two decades.
We at SHATIL and NIF are as excited as everyone who longs and works for social change by the spontaneous outpouring of activism and solidarity. "It feels like a dream," one SHATIL staffer said, echoing the sentiments of many. SHATIL staff members are working in tent camps throughout the country, from Naharia in the north to Ashdod in the South: listening, giving advice, helping with message focus and facilitating training sessions designed to meet specific needs raised by the protesters. We are networking and helping to form partnerships between the emerging activists and those in Israel's social change movement who have long been working for affordable housing, health and education rights and for re-establishing the state's responsibility for the welfare of its citizens. We are involved in the process of bringing together representatives of all the tent encampments for joint decision making. After surveying protesters' needs, we made distributed contact information forcampaign, fundraising, media and advocacy specialists from SHATIL and our social-change allies and grantees.
Based on discussions with dozens of protesters throughout the country, SHATIL staff quickly mobilized to produce a comprehensive and user-friendly guide on everything related to the struggle, from how to establish and run a tent camp, to handling media coverage and much more. The Guide to Tent-camp Campaigning, produced in cooperation with protest leaders, Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), the Coalition for Affordable Housing and the Movement for Life and Equality, is being distributed throughout the country. A regularly updated version is available online at http://www.SHATIL.org.il/files/Housing_campaign_Guide_2011.pdf.
As has been widely observed, the massive protest was launched by young adults of the middle class. One of our challenges has been to help leverage the amazing energies in the street in what Michael Walzer has called "the first uprising, anywhere in the world, against a successful neo-liberal regime" for continued work for social change. A focus of our activities has been to connect additional constituents to the current efforts – particularly in underserved immigrant communities. We are likewise invested in connecting protestors with social economists and other thought-leaders to help shape a shared agenda. Other efforts include:
In what we have nicknamed a SHATIL-mobil, staffers visit four to five encampments daily, consulting, distributing information and transferring materials between different tent cities.