Achievements Amid Wave of Anti-Democratic Legislation

16 August 2016

Since the formation of the right-wing government earlier this year, a wave of anti-democratic legislation has been passed, which has been worrisome – to say the least – to supporters of a just, equal, and democratic Israel. As the Knesset goes into summer recess, however, we are also celebrating several key legislative victories. These achievements are the result of the hard work and public pressure led by NIF and our grantees.

Following a campaign by NIF grantee Sikkuy – the Association for the Advancement of Civil Equality, Anjaz Arab Center for Alternative Planning, and the Arab Council of Local Authority Heads, the Cabinet approved a NIS 10-15 billion allocation to amend budgetary discrimination against Israel’s Arab sector. The funds will be used to help equalize discriminatory spending in education, welfare, housing, culture, infrastructures, public transport, and more.

In another success, Education Minister Naftali Bennett set up the Biton Committee for the Enrichment of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jewish Culture in the education system. The campaign for equality and justice for Israel’s Mizrachi community was supported by the “My Heart is in the East” coalition, many of them NIF grantees including New Discourse (The Democratic Mizrachi Rainbow), Achoti: Sister for Women in Israel, Haoketz, and recently Tikkun and Alliance Israelite Universelle – KIAH (Kol Israel Haverim).

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced that 80% of the municipal taxes collected in the Tefen region, a wealthy industrial zone, would be allocated to surrounding poorer Arab and Jewish regional councils. This follows a campaign by NIF grantees Sikkuy, Arab Center for Alternative Planning, and the Forum for Just Land Redistribution.

The Ministers of Health and Finance doubled the healthcare spending for medicine and services. NIF grantee Adva Center was prominent in the campaign to raise awareness about the erosion of healthcare spending.

The Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance, with support and financial backing from NIF, took place with a record-breaking number of attendees. Moreover, 25,000 attended the event, which marked one year since the murder of Shira Banki at last year’s march. The event was not only a celebration of LGBT rights, but also a protest against growing incitement and erosion of freedom of speech and the right to demonstrate.

The Urban Renewal Law, which prevents eviction of tenants in public housing, whether new or undergoing urban renewal,was recently passed by the Knesset. Working to promote the law was the NIF supported Forum for Public Housing.

Many of these achievements follow multi-year campaigns led by NIF-grantees and some were accomplished against all the odds.