|Summer social protests spawn new initiatives|
|Written by Ruby Ong|
More than six months after hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets to demand affordable housing and social justice; the unprecedented protests have spawned dozens of new social change initiatives. NIF/SHATIL together with flagship grantee Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) have presented details of 132 of these initiatives online (in Hebrew).
This includes 87 new organizations and 45 new initiatives by existing organizations. In all likelihood there are dozens more initiatives that were not brought to the attention of the researchers, while more new initiatives are set up every week. The data was compiled in November 2011.
SHATIL's Program Director Avi Dabush said, "The protests in the summer were to a great extent the result of intensive work over many years by social change organizations, activists, academics and communities. The protests have ended but also generated new initiatives in a kind of 'big bang' effect. Throughout the summer tens of thousands of Israelis formed new organizations, or joined existing groups online and in person. This happened at both the local and national levels."
A breakdown of the new initiatives by SHATIL found that 65% were national organizations and 35% were local. Sixty percent have long-term aims, 10% have short-term goals, and the other 30% did not fall simply into these two categories. Some 30% of initiatives deal generally with social change, 13% with civic participation, 12% with housing, 9% with welfare, 7% with cost of living, 5% with employment, 3% with the environment, 3% with human rights, and the rest in a broad range of other topics.
The initiatives include: Ashdod Awakening, a group of activists seeking to develop local social leadership; Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews launched a new initiative for improved housing for Ethiopian immigrants; and Hamahapach set up a Facebook group dedicated to achieving social justice.
While there is some disappointment with the reforms proposed, and thus far implemented, by the Trajtenberg Committee, which was set up by the government to address the protestors’ demands, the 'big bang' of new initiatives gives ground for hope."This struggle for equality, joint living and democracy is a struggle that will determine the character of the state for generations to come,” said Dabush. “The social protests -- and the organizations that have been set up in its wake -- have made us more optimistic than ever."