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Martin Indyk on Breaking the Silence

Much has been written this past week on Breaking the Silence, one of NIF’s many grantees. The crux of what they do has been obscured however in the fog of debate about this or that modus operandi or whether a particular press story was sufficiently contextualised.

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Breaking the Silence responds to criticism from ECAJ

NIF grantee Breaking the Silence released the following statement having been criticised in J-Wire by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ).

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(Executive Council of Australian Jewry President) Dr (Danny) Lamm insinuates that the testimonies published by Breaking the Silence are not credible, suggesting that they are manufactured by the organization “solely for their propaganda effect.” The anonymity of the testimonies and the fact that they are allegedly “untested by any kind of cross-questioning” is his sole evidence.

Breaking the Silence is an organization of over 850 Israeli veterans – male and female combat soldiers and officers who served in the IDF in the harshest days of the last decade. Our publications meet the highest standards of investigative journalism. All unusual and exceptional testimonies must be corroborated by two independent sources before publication; and anonymity, as every journalist knows, is a condition for exposure of wrong-doing. As any visitor to the website can see, dozens of veterans have in fact testified without anonymity, their names and faces revealed on camera.

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An update on Israel's social justice protests

Dear friends --

Last year, up to 400,000 Israelis took to the streets to call for “tzedek chevrati” – social justice. Recent polling confirms that more than 80% of Israelis support the protests against government policy on basic quality of life issues and the deterioration of public services.

These were not new issues for the New Israel Fund and organisations funded by NIF played a big part in the protests. NIF’s flagship grantee, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, recently published a report titled “Between Realisation and Dehydration” which catalogues the cutting of services and benefits by successive governments over the past three decades, with growing public concern about the resulting loss of dignity experienced by many Israelis.

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Update on recent events in South Tel Aviv

Dear friend --

I hope that those of you who had the chance to hear Daniel Sokatch speak were inspired and energised by his comments. While Daniel was still here, deeply troubling events in Tel Aviv caught the attention of Israelis and Jews all over the world.

In light of those events, Rabbi David Rosenn, NIF's chief operating officer, sent this note to NIF supporters around the world at the end of last week.

I'm forwarding it to you now and urging you to support one of Israel's most at-risk groups. Rabbi Rosenn gives the link under for donations to his and NIF’s urgent special appeal.

For further information, you can see this update on the New Israel Fund website, and this set of photos by Activestills.

Kind regards,

Robin Margo (Signature)

Robin Margo
President, New Israel Fund (Australia)

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Updates from Daniel Sokatch's visit

For those of you who missed Daniel speak, you can view this video, or view some articles, interviews and photos below:

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Happy 64th Birthday Israel!

On the eve of Yom Haatzmaut, the Ambassador of Israel to Australia, His Excellency Yuval Rotem, has sent NIF Australia and its supporters a greeting, which you can read here (PDF) or below.

We are honoured that the Ambassador found time in his busy schedule to acknowledge our and NIF’s commitment to the well-being of Israel. We will be redoubling our efforts to raise awareness in Australia of the challenges facing Israeli society and to help Israelis who are working to realise the vision in Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

Next month, New Israel Fund CEO Daniel Sokatch is visiting Australia. We have been busy preparing and are excited to announce the dates of his public events:

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"We had no state for 2,000 years. Why are we now jeopardizing its Jewish, democratic essence?"

Talia Sasson
Photo: Flash90

Talia Sasson, the former senior state legal official who prepared a landmark report for prime minister Ariel Sharon on unauthorized building in the West Bank, and member of New Israel Fund's International Council, was interviewed last week by Times of Israel editor David Horovitz.

In an interview with The Times of Israel, Talia Sasson, who wrote the 2005 legal overview on West Bank outposts for Sharon, described Netanyahu’s stated vision of a Palestinian state as “meaningless” and “empty words.”

“If you have a vision of Palestinian statehood,” she said, “you don’t take control of the territory in this way.” She drew particular attention to the government’s readiness to establish a new settlement in place of Migron — “a regression” that would constitute the first officially authorized settlement since the start of the 1990s. In terms of overall settlement building policy, she said, “Everything bad that could be happening is happening.”

You can also read the interview in full.

Chag sameach v'kasher (and an announcement of our next speaker!)

Passover1.jpgAs we approach the first Pesach since New Israel Fund Australia was formed, we want to thank you for your principled commitment in supporting us and the New Israel Fund.

Pesach, the festival of freedom, provides an opportunity to reflect on NIF’s critical work upholding freedom: supporting the battle against gender segregation in public spaces; supporting Israeli Arabs to challenge discrimination and racism, most recently in response to mob violence directed at Arab workers in a Jerusalem mall; supporting disadvantaged Mizrachi and Ethiopian Jews; and advocating for other marginalised people in Israel, including people with disabilities, refugees and people struggling with homelessness or with poor access to education.

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Dateline Beer Sheva: NIF Activist Reports From the Front Line

Haim Bar Yaakov (right) discusses housing problems with a fellow activist.
Haim Bar Yaakov (right) discusses housing problems with a fellow activist.

Each time the sirens blare, Haim Bar Yaakov rounds up his children in their Beer Sheva apartment and ushers them into the stairwell. He said, "I wouldn't take them down to the public shelters, they are poorly maintained and anyway I doubt we would get there in time."

It has been a tense week for Bar Yaakov as rockets from Gaza rain down on Southern Israel. The 53 year-old founder of NIF grantee Life With Dignity, which seeks housing solutions for disadvantaged Israelis faced with eviction for mortgage default on non-payment of rent to public housing companies, has spent more time with his family. 

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Our progress in 2012 newsletter

With 2012 under way, I write to report some highlights of NIF Australia’s first six months.

NIF in Australia and Israel

Since the launch of NIF Australia by NIF president Naomi Chazan during her highly successful visit in June last year, we have built an extensive base of supporters. Growing our database is important for our work and I encourage you to ask friends and family who share your commitment to Israel as both the Jewish state and a democratic state for all its citizens to register their names and contact details on our website, www.nif.org.au.

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