5 Saint Luke's St.
- Democracy and community development
- Human rights
- International/Cultural relations
- Youth and education
The public sphere in Israel, including private and institutional elements, is filled with materials, expressions, messages, activities, and practice that have a racist character.
It seems that the disease of hate and discrimination has spread among us, and almost no sector or group has remained immune to it. At the same time, public criticism of racist revelations is lessening. It seems that there is acceptance, and sometimes even agreement, with messages that should be rejected with disgust.
Against this background, we as social organizations and private individuals who feel obligated to advance and to safeguard human rights in Israel, have been working on putting forth a vision of a nation without racism. We want to make our voices heard and work for the defeat of the phenomenon of racism in Israel.
We feel that it is our duty to act and to respond to messages, activities, materials, and expressions that have in them any discrimination, persecution, humiliation, mortification, evidence of hatred, hostility, violence, or encouragement of confrontations towards any person, community, or parts of the population, all because of color, race, religion, national-ethnic identity, or because of origin.
The minority communities that we represent are all victims of prejudice and discrimination. Therefore, our main goal is to utilize our Coalition representing a pluralistic civil society to combat institutional racism and discrimination. However, these communities, too, express racist and intolerant attitudes towards each other. We thus work to educate our own communities about the effects of racism while also encouraging individuals to meet across communities.
In 2015 we will devote a major portion of our work to three main avenues of combating racism:
1. Working with the police to reduce discrimination and police brutality.
2. Lobbying the Knesset Education Committee and the Ministry of Education to invest in human rights and an anti-racism curriculum.
3. Targeting ministries and institutions to reduce institutional discrimination and to encourage them to adhere to already established anti-discrimination laws.
Our work has already taken on two main directions:
1. We worked to liaise with the police and to conduct human rights awareness training programs.
2. We also initiated a campaign to take legal action in response to police misconduct.
This project promotes respect for human rights, such as basic freedoms, freedom of movement, and the rights of detainees, as well as the rule of law. We regard it as a matter of course that the police work to assist minorities and vulnerable communities rather than perpetuating stereotypes and causing additional harm.
This year we will also initiate a large-scale campaign to encourage anti-racism work throughout the education system. We are working with the Knesset Lobby for the War on Racism and Discrimination, lobbying the Ministry of Education to recognize the urgency of the situation and to change the educational curriculum. We expect that the government and governmental institutions themselves will take measures to reduce instances of institutional discrimination and racist incitement.
Thanks to our work, government ministries are beginning to assume responsibility. We are creating a more favorable environment for other institutions and authorities to come forward and to seriously address institutional discrimination in their departments.
We are currently initiating several new programs:
Through Culture against Racism, we conduct cultural events in various localities throughout Israel to bring together Jewish and Arab audiences. After numerous hate crimes were committed in Fureidis, we brought Culture against Racism into the city and held musical events with Arab and Jewish artists. This attracted both Arab and Jewish audiences, and residents of Fureidis got a chance to mingle with one another while learning a bit about each other’s culture and music. More than 600 individuals attended the events. We plan to make this a regular program in the coming year- bringing minority groups together to know and celebrate one another’s culture.
Education for human rights and anti-racism. In this year we are planning to launch a project working with high school teachers in the Western Galilee, particularly in Sheikh Danoun, an Arab village, and at Evron High School. We selected this region because the area in and around Nehariya experiences frictions between the Arab and Jewish residents on a daily basis. In this program we train teachers how to promote tolerance and how to educate against racism in schools. Teachers have a profound effect on their students and can be strong agents of change. By bringing tolerance and antiracism education into these schools, we hope to create safe and diverse environments where students, who otherwise might never interact with a member of the other community, learn about respect, mutual understanding and human rights. In turn, some of these students will have a strong multiplier effect as they go on to army service, higher education, and enter the job market. With a strong background in acceptance and understanding, they will affect their peers’ attitudes and outlooks on Jewish-Arab relations and become agents of wide-scale social change. Our member organization, Psychoactive, will take the lead on this project.
Activities with young leaders. With our member organizations Ossim Shalom and the Community Centers Company in the lead, we plan on conducting activities with young leaders and guides, ages 15-18, in the Galilee this coming year. The Galilee region is the home of arious groups from a wide range of ethnicities, nationalities, religions, and races. However, this region is also among the most segregated in Israel. Youths neither have a chance to regularly meet peers from other groups nor get to know one another personally, leading to numerous expressions of racism and prejudice. It is important to target this age group, as they are the ones entering the army, and joining the workforce and institutions of higher education. They will be the ones setting the stage for Israel’s future.
The members of the national Network could profit from our knowledge and the experiences we made. The Coalition against Racism has been in action for ten years. We are well known for following through on our projects and constantly working to improve tolerance and understanding throughout society. We have established close ties with Knesset members and government leaders, thus improving our ability to reach policy-makers and to effect social change. Over the past years, the Coalition has established local and regional groups of activists. Furthermore, we already established a Galilee Forum in the Karmiel Area and are currently planning to establish a bi-national group in Nazareth, together with a joint activist group between the cities of Zichron Yaakov and Fureidis and several partner initiatives in the Negev. Our structure as a coalition of 40 NGOs, with their members offering skills sets highly suited to our work, allows us to represent numerous minority groups. Besides representatives from minority communities, we also have coalition members with important acquirements that directly contribute to our ability to act. Tebeka, Tmura Center, Mossawa Center, and IRAC, to name a few, are organizations comprised of lawyers from all Israeli communities. They are experts regarding laws that affect minority communities, which makes them an important asset to the Coalition because they play a major role in our legal work. All member groups contribute their professional skills to our work, thus allowing us to address a broad range of issues.
We would like to learn from the different organizations and people that are active in your national Network in Israel. The Coalition Against Racism in Israel is interested in future cooperation and partnership with different actors in order to achieve our vision of equality, non-discrimination and to decrease racism in Israel. As a coalition we are always interested in expanding our reach. In order to do that we need partners and supporters to promote and encourage our many projects and campaigns. We are also on the search for new funding opportunities, we need foundations who are willing to assist our work so that we can achieve our aims.