Defending Israelis’ Right to Protest
Over the past year, Israelis have taken to the streets to protest against government corruption, violence in Palestinian-Israeli society, and home demolitions. NIF, Shatil, and grantees including the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel have educated protesters about their rights and provided legal support. The Human Rights Defenders Fund has negotiated the release of over 250 protesters, and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel has filed over 70 reports of police brutality at various demonstrations since July 2020.
Advocating for Environmental and Housing Justice
A coalition of activists in Tel Aviv including NIF grantee Achoti (Sister) for Women in Israel have finally won a decades-long battle to remove the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station, a source of air pollution and other hazards, from its current site. Women living near the bus station are twice as likely to die of lung cancer than the national average, according to Ministry of Health data. The Tel Aviv Municipality agreed to vacate the current bus station by 2023.
Ending Arbitrary IDF Home Invasions in the West Bank
In June 2021, the Israeli Army announced it would severely restrict nighttime incursions into Palestinian homes in the West Bank for intelligence-gathering purposes, a decades-long practice that inflicted long-term psychological trauma on families. This policy change comes after a campaign led by Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI), and Breaking the Silence, which included publishing a report critical of the practice.
Offering Hope for a Shared Future
In May 2021, as violence raged around the country between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel, NIF created a new NIS 1 million (just over $300,000) fund for Jewish-Arab shared society projects, sending a powerful message of hope and resilience during a dark time. Of the 600 proposals submitted, 21 “Voices of Hope” grantees were selected, representing a broad spectrum of ideas to foster mutual understanding, respect and dialogue, root out racism, introduce young Jews and Arabs and educate them about the “other,” and create shared spaces.
Supporting the Ultra-Orthodox LGBTQ Community
NIF is supporting a new project to expand outreach to LGBTQ ultra-Orthodox individuals who often lack acceptance within their communities. Organizations involved in the project include the New Haredim and three religious LGBTQ organizations: Bat-Kol – Religious Lesbian Organization, Havruta – Religious Gay Community, and Shoval: Education and Tolerance. Shatil is supporting the initiative by connecting Haredi activists and leaders with these organizations. And in response to a petition by PHRI and other organizations, Israel’s Supreme Court in August instructed the government to clarify why it has refused to grant work permits to LGBTQ Palestinians seeking political asylum in Israel.
Championing Religious Pluralism
The High Court ruled in March 2021 that conversions by the Reform and Conservative Movements in Israel will qualify Jews by choice to receive oleh (immigrant) status and Israeli citizenship, in accordance with the Law of Return. This ruling marked the end of a 15-year legal battle by NIF grantee Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) against Orthodox control over who qualifies as a Jew for the purpose of Israeli citizenship.
Expanding Access to Education
Following a successful petition filed by ACRI and ASSAF – Aid Organization for Refugees & Asylum Seekers in Israel, children of asylum seekers and migrant workers in Petah Tikva received kindergarten placements for the 2021-2022 school year after long being denied permission to enroll.
Advancing Recognition for Bedouin Villages
In March 2021, following a Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages-led petition to the government, the unrecognized village of Hashem Zaneh received government approval for setting up mobile kindergarten and school units in the village—a major milestone in the recognition process. Bimkom: Planners for Planning Rights and Shatil were essential partners for Hashem Zaneh throughout the years-long process.
Combating Settler Violence and the Occupation
NIF continues working to keep the occupation on the public agenda and to safeguard the rights of Palestinians living under Israeli rule in the West Bank. NIF recently approved an emergency grant to Haqel: In Defense of Human Rights to fund a 24/7 hotline for residents of the South Hebron Hills, who have been subjected to intensified settler violence in recent months.
Fighting Extremism in the Digital Sphere
FakeReporter, which launched with NIF support this year, worked to report and disrupt extremist groups on social media platforms. Their reporting led to the closure of dozens of Telegram and WhatsApp groups created to incite violence. Additionally, NIF grantees IRAC, Citizens’ HQ, and Mehazkim succeeded in petitioning for the deplatforming of extremist organization Lehava and leaders Michael Ben Ari and Baruch Marzel.
Ensuring Health-Care Equity
Israel’s Minister of Health announced a historic investment in health care for Palestinian communities in Israel. PHRI, the Galilee Society, and the Shatil-led Arab-Jewish Citizens’ Forum for the Promotion of Health in the Galilee had all brought attention to the gaps in health-care services between Jewish and Palestinian Israelis. The decision allocates an additional $200 million (NIS 650 million) toward health services in Arab communities.
Extending a Lifeline to Civilians in Gaza
Following the hostilities between Israel and Hamas in May, PHRI distributed 1,500 food parcels to Gazan families whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the fighting, as well as medicine and medical equipment. During the fighting, when Israel further tightened already stringent limitations on exit permits for Gazans in need of urgent medical care, the organization petitioned the High Court of Justice, and the state repealed the new restrictions.