The last few weeks have been challenging for us all. As COVID-19 spreads, whole communities are being ordered to stay inside and more people are falling ill. Our hearts are with those who are most vulnerable in Canada, in Israel, and around the world.
We know that this pandemic is not affecting everyone in the same way, in large part due to inequalities that predate COVID-19. NIFC has a vital role to play during this time to protect the most vulnerable communities in Israel and to preserve Israel’s already-fragile democracy.
Just weeks ago, when we launched our 2020 projects in Israel, we had no idea that we would find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic so soon after. NIFC and every single one of our project partners in Israel quickly pivoted to address Israel’s most urgent needs during the pandemic. Our work does not stop during this unprecedented time; rather, it is more essential than ever.
Examples of the important work our partners in Israel are doing to address the crisis include:
- The Association for Civil Rights in Israel has won court petitions against the plan to carry out surveillance of Israeli citizens via their phones and against freezing the judicial system in the state of emergency, contacted the Israel Electric Company in an effort to halt disconnections for unpaid bills during the crisis, and successfully demanded that the authorities publish Arabic-language translations of COVID-19 instructions and measures.
- Ir Amim is reporting on Israel’s unequal response to the pandemic in East Jerusalem, challenging Israel’s ongoing neglect of the area, and highlighting an absurd heightened police presence – and continued home demolitions – during the pandemic.
- Physicians for Human Rights-Israel is operating its Open Clinic at full capacity to address the tremendous need for emergency health care in the asylum seeking and refugee communities.
- NIFC’s ten other project partners also shifted their work immediately to protecting people with disabilities during the pandemic, mounting campaigns to ensure equal access to social and economic benefits, providing distance learning to their participants, and more.
Our work defending marginalized people in Israel is vital under normal circumstances. In the context of the current public health and ongoing political crisis, it is even more critical. The needs are already enormous, and they will only grow larger.
We don’t know when this crisis will end. But we do know, as people who are committed to justice and equality, that we can’t forget about those who are most in need.