After the rockets - New Israel Fund Australia

After the rockets

Below is a message from NIF CEO Daniel Sokatch:

Friend --

All of us are breathing a sigh of relief now, as Wednesday's ceasefire appears to be holding, ending a dreadful week of violence. I've heard from our staff in the Beer Sheva office. They tell me that life there is slowly returning to the pre-war routine.

The war exposed deep inequalities within Israeli society and a shocking level of anti-democratic vitriol. There is an urgent need, today, to respond: to ensure that all Israelis are able to get back to a normal life and to protect against a rising tide of extremism.  This is about equality and about democracy. This is about the kind of place that Israel is. 

Let me explain -- in the midst of the crisis, NIF focused on two concurrent efforts:

1) To ensure that the most vulnerable Israelis living under rocket attack were cared for. 
Communities like Ethiopian immigrants, Russian speakers, and Bedouins don't always get their fair share. Drawing on the relationships -- and the trust -- that we've built over many shared struggles for social justice, NIF stepped in to fill the gaps. 

2) To protect the freedoms of expression, assembly, and dissent against extremists trying to enforce strict limits on political discourse. Democracy cannot survive if civil liberties are shut down or if Israel's embattled human rights camp is silenced. 

Now that the fighting is over, I need your help to press ahead with the hard work of ensuring equality and democracy for all Israelis.

During the fighting, NIF strategically took on urgent projects that would help people through the challenges of life under attack: We arranged hospitality for those wanting to leave the South. We provided information in Russian and Amharic to immigrant populations living near Gaza. We stepped in to make sure that needy Bedouin families continued to receive food donations. (Click here to see a list of the $50,000 in Emergency Grants approved during the fighting.)

We also made emergency investments that are now helping Israel’s most vulnerable to get back on their feet: We’re providing professionals trained in psychological trauma care for the Russian, Ethiopian, and Bedouin communities. We're making sure that even the least privileged Israelis know their rights so that they can access government-provided recovery funds or are not fired because they were unable to work during the fighting. And we're training Arab and Jewish teachers to help their students cope.  

Donate now. We need your help to build on these emergency efforts, to expand care for those Israelis who are too often left behind. In so many ways, this work is just getting started.

Your support of NIF also stops extremism and defends democracy. And make no mistake: Israel’s democratic soul is on the line. 

The war unleashed a wave of hateful incitement targeting Israeli human rights and peace activists. Two quick examples: A Member of Knesset led a vicious chant at a pro-war rally -- “leftists to Gaza.” A full-page ad, sponsored by a shadowy organization, appeared in print and called on NIF to censor the human rights groups we support.

The extremists peddle a twisted logic that Israeli attention to human rights somehow causes anti-Israel hatred in Gaza and around the world. And once they sell that worldview, the path to a society that demonizes dissent and turns on its own is very short. 

You and I know the truth -- it is Israel’s human rights champions that show that Israel is a democracy at heart. It is the vitality of these groups that help Israeli society garner the admiration of so many. Without them, Israel would not be able to live up to its foundational Jewish and democratic values.

Now, that the rockets and bombs have stopped, we must reinforce the values of civility, tolerance, and human rights. We must push back against these anti-democratic forces. 

Make your donation today. Say yes to a better Israel.

We can’t do it unless you step up. Really. The future of Israel is in your hands.

Daniel Sokatch