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Israel Refocused: New “Jewish-trumps-democratic” legislation

Welcome to the first NIF Australia “Israel Refocused” e-mail news update.

We are going to send these e-mails to you periodically to keep you up to date with some of the news that's happening in Israel, particularly in our focus areas: human and civil rights, women's issues, religious pluralism and tolerance, and leadership training.

Hopefully we can share some news stories you may not otherwise have seen -- the aim of these emails is to complement news out of Israel you already consume, rather than replace it.

Happy reading, and if you have any feedback, or want to suggest an item for the next edition, feel free to get in touch with us at [email protected].


Liam (Executive Director) and Dani (Project Officer)

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Advancing the Status of Women, June 2014

In some cases, religious law, social institutions and traditions in Israel have kept girls and women at a disadvantage in schools, in the workplace, in divorce cases, and as victims of violence. Israeli women in minority groups have disproportionately high rates of unemployment, poverty, health problems and abuse of basic rights.

Women Should Be Seen and HeardMoreover, in a worrying trend, ultra-Orthodox norms regarding gender segregation have been increasingly spilling over into the public domain, as women and girls are increasingly excluded from public spaces. At the same time, growing public awareness is now mobilising action across the political and social spectrums, engendering new organisations committed to religious freedom and women's rights, and galvanising veteran ones.

These groups, with support from NIF and Shatil, are succeeding in making change.

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Yom Ha'atzmaut 2014

“THE STATE OF ISRAEL … will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.”

When David Ben-Gurion read these words sixty-six years ago in Tel Aviv, under imminent threat of war from its new neighbours, Israel declared a daring vision for itself.

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Our new leadership team

NIF Australia has renewed its leadership team, electing Irving Wallach as its new president and Mandi Katz as vice-president. Former president, Robin Margo SC, retired from the board and joins Assoc Prof Mark Baker, Justice Stephen Rothman AM, Ronald Sackville AO QC and Robyne Schwarz AM on its Advisory Council.

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We're Hiring!

We're excited to announce that we're hiring a Project Officer to help us prepare for and coordinate our educational events, manage communications, and deliver an exciting new initiative. Enquire below!

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Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State

Last year, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni appointed Ruth Gavison, Israeli law professor and former president of NIF’s flagship grantee the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), to assist her in preparing a constitutional arrangement reflecting Israel’s character as a “Jewish and democratic” state.

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Israeli NGOs defend justice and rights in the West Bank

Following broadcast last night of the ABC Four Corners programme “Stone Cold Justice”, Robin Margo S.C., president of NIF Australia, said: “The application of military justice to Palestinian juveniles in the West Bank has long been of concern to Israeli NGOs. And the Israeli Government, to its credit, accepts that raising such concerns is a proper function of its national human rights organisations.”

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Shatil leads public housing win

Thousands of Israelis will be able to take a critical step out of the poverty chain thanks to the efforts of the SHATIL-led Public Housing Forum.

After several years in deep freeze, Israel’s Public Housing Law, passed in 1998, will now be implemented again due to the Forum’s intensive advocacy work.

“One third of Israelis live below the poverty line and families spend more money on housing than anything else. Implementation of the Public Housing Law will help thousands of Israelis who have difficulty meeting basic needs like food, medicine and housing and will significantly reduce the dimensions of intergenerational poverty in the country,” said SHATIL policy expert, Danny Gigi.

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Supporting the Rights of African Asylum Seekers in Israel

1488028_10151873243993951_1385262856_n.jpgDid you know that before Sunday's massive rally in Israel supporting the rights of African refugees and asylum seekers, NIF gave an emergency grant to help the protest organisers?

At the rally in downtown Tel Aviv, 20,000 African migrants and refugees gathered to protest harsh new laws aimed at their status in Israel. According to the legislation, anybody crossing Israel's border without a permit is detained and transferred to an "open facility." Once in the open facility, thrice daily roll-calls make it almost impossible to leave or work. Migrants can be held indefinitely. As has been the case for some time, Africans with legitimate claims to asylum status are not receiving individual hearings as required by international law.

NIF's grant of $3,000 for transportation and sound equipment helped support these marginalized voices.

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NIF's Achievements in Israel - 2013

rsz_shatil_poverty_forum_1.jpg2013 has been a big year for NIF -- both in Australia, and in Israel.

You can read more about NIF Australia's progress in our 2013 report, and below the work of NIF and its grantees across the width and breadth of Israeli society.

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