Israel’s democratic crisis did not end with Hamas’ attacks on October 7th and has continued throughout the past eight months of the Gaza war.

Since the formation of Israel’s current extremist government in early 2023, emboldened Jewish extremists in the halls of power and their allies outside it have made dismantling Israel’s democratic protections a top goal. Alongside draft legislation aimed at undermining the judiciary, cabinet ministers have sought to use the tools of state to persecute and intimidate the second greatest threat to unchecked government power: Israel’s inspiring and highly-mobilized civil society.

Most prominently, hostage family demonstrators and peace protestors are met with harsh police measures like skunk spray and violent arrest. Pro-democracy movement leaders are smeared as traitors in cahoots with Hamas. Skyrocketing settler violence in the West Bank against aid convoys to Gaza, human rights NGOs, and Palestinians goes unpunished. Arab citizens expressing sympathy for innocent Gazans on social media are hauled before police inquiries – and suspended from universities. Arts and education funding are at risk if institutions criticize the government.

To help protect Israeli civil society’s freedom to operate, NIFC has issued emergency funding to two new projects: the Civil Society Protection Hub and the Human Rights Defenders’ Fund.

Established by the New Israel Fund in February 2023, the Civil Society Protection Hub serves civil society NGOs and leaders who are being intimidated or even physically threatened from operating freely. “The Hub” offers a wide variety of civil society actors legal assistance, physical and digital security, public relations advice, mental health resources, and other expertise from its members: the Human Rights Defenders Fund (HRDF), the Israeli Democratic Bloc, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), FakeReporter, and Mehazkim.

The Human Rights Defenders Fund (HRDF) is a member of the Hub and the legal “safety net” for human rights defenders in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Under Israel’s current government, authorities have turned a blind eye to settler violence and aimed to prevent lawful human rights monitoring. This project will protect professionals and volunteers from efforts to intimidate, harm, and criminalize those performing human rights monitoring in Israel and the OPT.

This funding is alongside our preexisting funding for two other members of the Hub: FakeReporter’s work combatting online misinformation and ACRI’s civil liberties work before the Supreme Court. Together, these partners represent the top defenders of freedom of protest and expression in Israel today.

We are proud to fund these Israelis standing up for democracy, equality, and peace – and who represent Israel’s best hope for a future of safety and prosperity.