“It’s Happening Again”
It’s happening again. Prime Minister Netanyahu, disconcerted by the widespread public criticism against the Nation State Law, has tried to distract the public by targeting the New Israel Fund.
On Sunday, he turned to Facebook to single out Mickey Gitzin, our executive director in Israel, whose supposed ‘wrongdoing’ was to write on Facebook that ‘the only way to build Jewish-Arab solidarity in Israel is to overcome fear and racism.’
There’s a reason that the prime minister is coming after NIF again. We stand for equality and for democracy – without exceptions – and we give voice to the enormous number of Israelis who share our values. This voice for democracy takes on a particular urgency following the passing of the Nation-State Law.
We are proud of our work on the Nation-State Law:
1) As the legislation was being debated by the Knesset, our staff and partners worked effectively behind the scenes to coordinate strong opposition. The result of this is that the draft law’s most egregious clauses – like the one that would have allowed Jewish-only towns or the one that would have endangered equal rights for women – were removed.
2) At the grassroots level, NIF-backed groups brought Israelis out into the streets to stand for equality. One of my favourite actions was “the world’s largest Arabic lesson” that took place in Tel Aviv. It was a pointed rebuttal to the downgrading of Arabic as an official language of Israel. Thousands took part.
3) Last Saturday, tens of thousands of Israelis – Jews and Arabs – gathered in Tel Aviv yet again for the largest demonstration opposing the Nation-State Law. Their signs said, “Equality Now!” and “Equal rights for all.” Their message was that this is a struggle for a shared future for all Israelis. It was a beautiful example of our movement and our sector at work.
4) On a legal front, NIF grantees are preparing petitions to the High Court opposing the Nation-State Law.
5) And here in the UK, NIF is responding to the widely shared concerns about the Law and its implications for both Israeli democracy and for Israel-Diaspora relations. We are working to ensure the voices of those within our community who care about a shared and inclusive society cannot be ignored. We are also proud that the British Board of Deputies have taken a decisive stand on this matter.
We will always be on the side of those Israelis working for a more equal society; this is the time to intensify our commitment.
Unfortunately, Prime Minister Netanyahu is setting a dangerous precedent: if you openly advocate for solidarity and equality in Israel, you risk being framed as a public enemy. We saw a similar approach just four months ago when he attacked us for our opposition to his deportation plan for people seeking asylum in Israel. We can all see through these attacks.
The struggle for the future of democracy in Israel is far from over. It’s up to us to stand together and fight for solidarity and equality.
As ever, thank you for your support,
Chief Executive, NIF UK
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