Like us, I’m sure you’re watching what’s happening right now in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories with distress and sadness.
Once again, an escalation of violence has clarified the extent to which the underlying causes of the conflict remain unresolved.
Thousands of Hamas rockets have targeted Israeli civilians; the physical cost is immense, with hundreds of injuries and several deaths, but so too is the emotional trauma it inflicts on innocent Israelis.
In Gaza, Israeli airstrikes have killed dozens and serve as a reminder that Palestinians living there are trapped and have little hope for a better future.
This awful situation hasn’t come out of the blue. In this case, flash points in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah with forced evictions, and changes to the status quo at the Temple Mount, have triggered much broader clashes.
Without addressing the reality of occupation and the systematic inequality it imposes on Palestinians there will be no end to the cycle of violence.
Particularly distressing for us – as an organisation committed to building shared society and opposing racism inside Israel – is the rise in unrest inside Israel's mixed cities.
News outlets have issued horrifying reports about Jewish mobs roaming the streets of Haifa looking for Arabs to assault, stabbing an Arab-Israeli in Jerusalem’s main market. In Lod, Arab mobs torched shules, stores and cars; in Tamra, a Jewish man was stabbed and assaulted.
Racist and hate-fueled incidents are threatening to undo the good work done by civil society activists over recent decades to bring Jewish and Arab Israelis together.
But this crisis must not deter us from our work. Israel’s future relies on Jewish and Arab Israelis forging and sustaining a partnership that embraces an inclusive democracy.
As long as the root causes of this conflict – racism and hatred from both Jewish and Arab extremists, and the inequality and humiliation of half a century of occupation – remain unaddressed, violence will continue to emerge and we’ll see more rounds of death and destruction.
The voice of human rights, equality and democracy may not always be the most popular in times of deepened conflict – both in Israel and in Australia’s Jewish community – but NIF will always be there to light a path towards a more inclusive and equal future for all Israelis and Palestinians.
Thanks for all your support.