Mainstreaming Accountability & Fact-Checking
Less than two years after its founding, The Whistle, the only organization fact-checking statements by Israeli politicians, was recently acquired by the Israeli financial news site, Globes. The Whistle was incubated by NIF as part of our New Initiatives for Democracy (NIFD), and this news is a hopeful sign of support from the Israeli business community for government accountability and transparency.
Combating Racism in the Knesset
Zazim – Community Action raised a powerful voice against extremism by collecting 14,000 signatures of Israelis calling to ban the openly racist Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party from running in the 2019 elections, while 8,500 more signed on globally in support of Zazim. Thanks to a petition filed by the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), Israel’s Supreme Court disqualified the candidacy of Michael Ben-Ari, leader of Otzma Yehudit. The far-right party also failed to cross the electoral threshold during the September elections.
Fighting Racial Segregation
Officially the city of Afula claimed that its central municipal park was for residents only, but in practice, security guards placed at the park’s gates only refused entry to Arab citizens from surrounding towns and villages. Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel petitioned the Nazareth Administrative Court on the matter and the court agreed and ordered Afula to overturn the racist policy, ensuring the park is open to all.
Getting Out the Bedouin Vote
NIF grantee Zazim – Community Action‘s plan to transport Bedouin voters from unrecognized villages (which do not have adequate roads or public transportation) to polling stations was canceled by the Central Elections Commission. But the plan acted as an inspiration for many private citizens, who traveled to unrecognized villages themselves on election day and taking Bedouin citizens to the polling stations to make sure they had access to vote.
Kicking Racism Off the Soccer Field
Since the inception of NIF’s Kick It Out (KIO) campaign to eliminate racism and violence in soccer in 2003, KIO has campaigned relentlessly to highlight the problem, which has gradually been reduced over the years. There were only two cases of racist chanting by Beitar Jerusalem fans during the 2018/19, compared with 17 during the 2017/18 season, and 35 in 2016/17, according to a KIO report.
Mobilizing for the Lives of Women
Groups like Israel Women’s Network (IWN), Zazim — Community Action, and Omdim Beyachad (Standing Together), Women Against Violence mobilized to bring 30,000 demonstrators to Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to protest the Israeli authorities’ failure to take action on violence against women. NIF gave emergency grants to organize this demonstration, which was the largest women’s protest ever held in Israel.
Bringing Down Racist Campaign Ads
After the national-religious Jewish Home party put up campaign ads in Ramle that used racist imagery and warned of intermarriage between Jews and Arabs, NIF grantees spoke out. Sikkuy: The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), and Tag Meir condemned the racist campaign, and the Ramle municipality took down the ads.
Putting Arabic in the Main Square
In response to the clause in the Nation-State Law that downgraded the status of the Arabic language, Israelis held a protest event in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square dubbed “the world’s largest Arabic lesson.” Thousands of Israelis gathered to learn Arabic and hear performances by Arab and Jewish musicians.
Standing Up to Cultural Censorship
NIF supported a coalition of artists and activists advocating against the Cultural Censorship bill, which would have allowed Culture Minister Miri Regev to act as a chief censor and control budgets of cultural institutions. Zazim — Community Action gathered over 8,000 signatures against the law. Thanks in part to these efforts, the vote on the bill has been indefinitely postponed.
Securing Welfare Services
People with mental health disabilities will now have access to welfare services. Following a petition from The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Bizchut: The Israel Human Rights Center for People with Disabilities, and the Sderot Municipality, the Ministry of Welfare overturned its policy to deny services to people with mental health disabilities.
Marching with Pride
Police initially refused to issue a permit for the firstever LGBTQ pride march in Kfar Saba this summer unless the organizers paid for security costs and placed a two-meter fence that would obscure the marchers from public view. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel sued, and the police backed down from the demands. NIF has helped LGBTQ organizers overcome similar obstacles in Be’er Sheva and Jerusalem.
Holding Business Accountable for Discrimination
Following a petition from The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), the Israel Land Administration fined Mishab Housing and Construction NIS 30,000 ($8,300) for discriminating against Arab home-buyers in the Galilee town of Maalot-Tarshiha. The firm offered significant discounts to prospective Jewish buyers, but consistently told Arab buyers that the special offers had ended.