By Ben Murane, Executive Director

I am still high from the thought-provoking conversations we had during last week’s Shira Herzog Symposium. I was thrilled that 320 people joined Peter Beinart and two of our Featured Activists. And what incredible conversations happened in the chat between attendees too.

We heard from our speakers that Israel remains in a pivotal place: the Israeli government balances precariously between its right- and left-leaning members.

On the one hand, we can see right now that our funded partners are winning some incredible victories:

  • Minister of Health Nitzan Horwitz announced 650 million shekels will be allocated to Arab healthcare needs. That’s a huge success many years in the making – read more here.
  • The Ministry of Education added two Palestinian experts to its team, spending 30 billion shekels recently allocated for Arab-sector infrastructure. (Thanks to our emergency-funded partner, The Follow-Up Committee on Arab Education.)
  • Minister of Transportation Merav Michaeli announced that the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station would finally be retired, following decades of neighbourhood activism.

These victories demonstrate the power of coalitions nurtured by Shatil and collaboration between NIF grantees over the past decade. Some doors in the new government are now open – and Israeli civil society is finally being heard.

On the other hand, the past few weeks also saw highly upsetting events and our funded partners continue to push on closed doors:

  • Violence by settlers has doubled since last year to 365 attacks, including one last month that fractured the skull of a three-year-old Palestinian child. Our funded partners are raising the alarm on the government’s inaction – read more here.
  • Last week Defense Minister Gantz sparked global upset by outlawing six Palestinian human rights NGOs with zero evidence. Today 20 Israeli human rights NGOs issued a full-page advertisement, saying zero-evidence claims are tools of autocratic regimes, not democracies.

That’s why we remain cautious but optimistic about the extent of possible change by this current Israeli government. This is the reality of social change, whether you’re favoured by those in office, opposed by those in office, or somewhere in between. Different times demand different tools.

Regardless of the government in power, NIFC will empower progressive Israelis to improve the lives of all Israelis and all those under Israel’s responsibility. Though, let’s be honest, it’s way better to have friends in government.