Like all Jews and people of peace around the world, we are deeply relieved at the news of a ceasefire. It is crucial that the cycle of violence in Gaza does not simply recommence. Our hope is that this ceasefire marks the rebirth of negotiations towards a Palestinian state and peace. The human toll in lives lost and damaged does not allow any other outcome.
In addition to the widely reported trauma caused by the war, another terrible consequence has been the polarising effect on Jewish and Arab communities inside Israel. Extremist right-wing demagogues have become emboldened and are fanning the flames of incitement on social networks, in the streets and in the Knesset. Individual Arab citizens of Israel have been attacked and injured. Verbal assaults have been intended to make them feel that they should not be part of Israeli society.
For some time now the fragility of Jewish-Arab relations in Israel has been marked by a rising tide of anti-Arab rhetoric, exclusionary politics and ongoing legislative efforts by a minority in the Knesset whose aim is to curtail the rights of Arab citizens.
The New Israel Fund has worked for more than 30 years building and strengthening civil society and democracy in Israel. Among our concerns in these very difficult times - and beyond - is the damage that can occur to these fundamental elements of a healthy society.
We need your help to stem the tide. In Israel, NIF supports a coalition called “Tag Meir” (Light Tag). Tag Meir has become the main Jewish voice against hate crimes, racism and incitement. It brings together 44 Jewish organisations across the social and religious spectra to counter the exponential rise in hate crimes.
Tag Meir has mobilised Jewish Israelis to go on solidarity visits to victims of hate crimes, protested with IDF reservists against racist incitement by rabbis and worked with the Minister of Education to develop and implement an anti-racism curriculum in Israel’s schools. The Justice Ministry has also taken notice. As a result of Tag Meir’s work, it is seeking to overhaul the way it treats these serious crimes.
Many of us have supported organisations assisting victims of the war, and hope that NIF supporters will also give to Tag Meir’s work to build a more inclusive and tolerant society that rejects incitement and racism against Arabs in Israel, just as we don’t accept it against Jews in Paris or Sydney.
We continue to support the work of other human rights organisations which monitor the toll in Gaza and which support Israel’s marginalised groups. Tag Meir’s work is equally critical. It focuses not just on the current flare up but also on how all shades of Israeli society can deal with the trauma the day after the fighting ends.
Please join our partnership to support Tag Meir. Together, we can help bring Israelis of all backgrounds together to understand the terrible impact on all of racism and incitement.
P.S. To learn more about Tag Meir’s work, we put together a page on our website of their achievements so far.