Now is not the time to “sit and sulk. We need to get out and fight”
I hope you and those close to you are well.
I last wrote to you as it emerged the country so dear to many of us will have a comfortable majority government featuring racists and extremists.
Now it has been confirmed Bezalel Smotrich will be the next Finance Minister, Itamar Ben Gvir will be Public Security Minister, and just in the last few days, Avi Maoz will be a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s office with a portfolio including “National Jewish Identity”.
Benjamin Netanyahu is desperate to reassure his voters, Israel’s allies, and Jewish communities around the world that Israel will protect minorities and be a “country of laws”. I fear the incoming coalition government poses the greatest threat to Israel’s democratic values and institutions in my lifetime.
With your support, the Israelis, Palestinians, and Israeli organisations we partner with are confronting that threat.
- After a recent reminder of the value of a functioning Supreme Court, securing a ruling protecting over 1.25M Israelis, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) delivered another victory at the Jerusalem District Court ensuring police transparency and protecting citizens’ rights to protest and hold authorities accountable for their actions.
- Omdim Beyachad (Standing Together) have been mobilising joint Arab-Jewish groups across the country and growing their 100,000 strong movement modelling the genuinely shared society that Israel can be.
- We are increasing our rapid response funding including for the Human Rights Defenders Fund and others to support those facings lawsuits aiming to silence opposition or undermine civil rights organisations.
Read more about the New Israel Fund’s immediate, local, and long-term work defending democracy.
In every crisis there is also opportunity.
As Mickey Gitzin, our director in Israel said, growing numbers of different people will join the struggle for equality and justice: “our fund will be the engine of this new movement…a movement (of) people from a very wide spectrum – the liberal right…to the Arab community on the other…they don’t share all the same values, but there’s enough common cause on which to build a movement.”
In the UK and around the world we are seeing Israelis and supporters of Israel across the board speaking out against extremism in Israel’s government, including Tzipi Livni, Abe Foxman, the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council, and the Union of Jewish Students.
We are confident that many more people will join you and the New Israel Fund in our determination that Israel be a just, safe, and equal society for all living there.
Chief Executive, The New Israel Fund UK
Join events with NIF around the world. Read statements from those mentioned above.
“The poison against the left, the hatred, describing them as collaborators with the enemy…exists in many people’s hearts.
The way in which some Israelis treat Palestinians, the belligerence, the feeling of superiority – has spread also towards fellow Israelis who simply think differently.
…the question isn’t who started it, but rather, how do we fix our reality, despite the complexities – and how do we ensure we don’t lose all our values on the way there.”
Tzipi Livni, full statement shared by Yachad here.
“If Israel ceases to be an open democracy, I won’t be able to support it…
“If they change the Law of Return and Israel’s world-class judiciary system…If Israel becomes a fundamentalist religious state, a theocratic nationalism state, it will cut Israel off from 70% of world Jewry, who won’t qualify into their definition of ‘who is a Jew.’”
Abe Foxman, former national director of the Anti-Defamation League, more here.
“We cannot support a government where these individuals are in positions of power. If we as a community call out the Far Right in Britain and elsewhere, we must not turn a blind eye to the Far Right in Israel.”
Full UJS statement here.
“”We are gravely concerned that the potential government will likely include individuals whose stated views and actions are in contrast to the tolerant and inclusive values of our community” – The Board of Deputies
“Israel is a free and fair democracy and we respect its robust democratic process. This does not mean we are not extremely concerned about some of the potential members of the governing coalition. Their views in relation to minorities and non-orthodox Jews raise serious concerns about the Israel we care about and support.” – The Jewish Leadership Council