|Written by Ruby Ong|
03 February 2011
A Message from Israel
With NIF’s senior staff at our winter board meeting in New York, we asked Hagai El-Ad, executive director of NIF flagship grantee the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), to contribute to this week’s NIF News.
As my friends and colleagues on NIF's board are convening in New York, I was given the honor of writing this NIF News introduction. So first let me start by wishing from Tel Aviv to everyone a most successful meeting – NIF's leadership and optimism are indeed essential factors of our joint struggle for democracy, human rights and social justice.
But these paragraphs are written not only in advance of NIF's Board meeting, but also ahead of next week's sessions in the Knesset. On the schedule are deliberations of the Knesset's House Committee establishing the mandate of the Committee of Inquiry against the human rights groups in preparation towards a final vote on this by the Knesset's plenum. Leading a broad coalition, SHATIL, NIF and ACRI are fighting hard against this contemporary incarnation of a relic right out of McCarthy's era.
And that is only one example.
But the core work of human rights groups was never to defend human rights groups. Our work has never focused on us – but rather, on the rights violated and the injustices and suffering thus caused. True, if we would be weakened, silenced or threatened – as many of the current anti-democratic initiatives are designed to do– it would in turn impact our core issues. But these core issues must remain, as they always have been, our raison d'être, our primary focus, our work.
So we have grown experienced over the past two years in staying focused: in investing what is needed in order to push back against those going after the human rights defenders – while continuing to defend human rights.
From the readers of this intro, I have one request: demand nothing less from us. Ask us what we are doing for social justice in order to close the growing economic gaps, how we advanced accessible, quality healthcare or equal access to education or housing. Demand to be updated on our work in fighting against human rights violations in the occupied territories and in bringing an end to the occupation. Ask about recent legal cases in defense of freedom of speech or recent grassroots campaigns to advance full equality for all citizens. Keep asking – and help us stay focused on our enormous tasks.
Association for Civil Rights in Israel