Magazine article Tikkun

Some Good News from Israel

Magazine article Tikkun

Some Good News from Israel

Article excerpt

TIKKUN READERS KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE PROBLEMS IN ISRAEL OFTEN KNOW FAR less about the dynamic community of Israeli non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which are the engine for challenging this reality. With the diminishing of the Israeli welfare state and collapse of the collective national ethos, on the one hand, and the absence of any cohesive left political movement, on the other, these organizations are now the driving force of legal, adyocacy, and educational work for social change in the country. The past two decades has brought a dramatic increase in the number of these social change organizations. There are hundreds of organizations working on issues as diverse as economic justice, civil and human rights, community economic development, environment, and religious pluralism. They range from small, grassroots organizations to large professional ones.

The past two decades have brought a dramatic increase in the number of these social change organizations. There are hundreds of organizations working on issues as diverse as economic justice, civil and human rights, community economic development, environment, and religious pluralism. They range from small, grassroots organizations to large professional ones.

The list below provides just a flavor of the work of some of the groups, supported over recent years by the Ford Foundation Israel Fund (www.fordisraelfund.org). Some of these groups, and numerous others, receive financial support from the New Israel Fund (www.nif.org) and ongoing capacity-building assistance from its empowerment and training arm, Shatil. Ha 'aretz recently stated: "There is hardly any significant, socially-oriented organization in Israel today that does not owe its existence to the New Israel Fund."

CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI, www.acri.org.il) is Israel's oldest and largest flagship civil rights organization, often described as the Israeli equivalent of the ACLU. The organization's precedent setting Supreme Court victories, won over the past 26 years, have advanced the rights afforded to Israelis in all communities from left to right, secular to religious, Jews and Arabs alike.

While ACRI is the only national organization working on the full spectrum of issues, there are a host of other, smaller, human rights organizations focusing on specific issues or constituencies. For example: Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (www.phr.org.il) monitors and advocates for the right to health within Israel and in the Occupied Territories; Workers hotline (www.kavlaoved.org.il) works to protect the rights of vulnerable workers in Israel and the Occupied Territories; and Rabbis for Human Rights www.rhr.israel.net introduces Jewish tradition and sources into its work to promote the rights of Israelis and Palestinians.

B'Tselem: the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (www.btselem.org) monitors and documents Israeli human rights policies in the Occupied Territories. Since its inception close to twenty years ago, its reports have earned high marks for accuracy and credibility. If you go into the offices of Israeli government and military officials, and senior offices within the U.S. State Department, you will undoubtedly see B'Tselem reports on staffer's desks. B'Tselem's work is focused on the macro level, leaving other organizations, such as HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual (www.hamoked.org) to offer free legal and administrative services to individual Palestinians suffering consequences of Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories. The organization has handled more than 60,000 individual cases.

SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RIGHTS

Mirroring a global phenomenon, Israeli social change organizations are increasingly working in areas of economic and social rights. A leading example of this approach can be found in the work of Yedid: The Association for Community Empowerment (www. …

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