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New Israel Fund Calls on Prime Minister Netanyahu to Strengthen Israel’s Democratic and Pluralistic Foundation

23 March 2010

Washington DC, – As Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu arrives in the United States to meet with President Barack Obama and Jewish leaders, the New Israel Fund is launching a new campaign in defense of democracy in Israel. Citing more than a year of attacks on Israeli civil society and the repression of dissent, NIF is calling on supporters and like-minded individuals to sign a petition calling on the Prime Minister to stand with all those working to strengthen a democratic and pluralistic Israel.

“It has become increasingly clear for anyone able to connect the dots that democracy in Israel is under attack,” said NIF CEO Daniel Sokatch. “By signing this petition we let Prime Minister Netanyahu know that recent actions by right-wing nationalist and ultra-Orthodox extremists threaten Israel’s democracy and international standing. We let him know that the principles of Israel’s founders and the best Jewish and universal values are on our side.”

Recently a vicious attack was leveled against New Israel Fund and NIF President Naomi Chazan. Unfortunately, that attack was only the tip of the iceberg. Activists have been detained for advocating for women’s rights at the Western Wall and against forced home evacuations in East Jerusalem, and weekly peaceful demonstrations in Bil’in outlawed. Right-wing members of the Knesset have pushed legislation that would limit the rights of many progressive NGOs in Israel, categorizing them as “political” in the manner of Russia, China and Iran. Women are literally being forced to sit in the back of public buses by the transportation ministry’s kowtowing to the ultra-Orthodox.  And, proposed legislation would diminish religious freedom in Israel by backtracking on acceptance of Reform and Conservative conversions.

The petition state, in part, “Israel is a Jewish and democratic state, and it must not jeopardize its standing as a democratic nation.  As a democracy, the rights of all its citizens must be upheld and safeguarded, and freedom of speech, conscience and belief respected by the government and private citizens alike.”

“We look forward to working with Prime Minister Netanyahu to strengthen Israel’s democratic and pluralistic foundation,” said Sokatch.

The full petition can be found online at

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