Rabbis Raise Their Voice
Rabbis for Human Rights is an Israeli organization that works throughout Israel and the Occupied Territory to monitor human rights violations, support economic justice and promote interfaith dialogue. Founded over 30 years ago in response to the violation of Palestinian human rights in the Occupied Territories, the organization has expanded to include a number of different initiatives throughout Israel and the West Bank to advance human rights for all.
“As a rabbi, I have to raise my voice. It has meaning to speak up. I represent more than just myself,” says Rabbi Ruti Baidatz.
Saving Children, One Heart at a Time
Over the last two decades, Save A Child’s Heart has performed more than 5,400 pediatric cardiac surgeries for children from over 60 developing nations, with approximately half their caseload consisting of Palestinian children from Gaza and the West Bank.
“When you have a Palestinian mother sitting next to an Israeli mother in a waiting room as their children are undergoing pediatric cardiac surgery, you have a bond that’s instantly created,” Executive Director Rabbi David Litwack tells J Street.
Strength through Solidarity
Standing Together is a joint Arab/Jewish progressive advocacy organization that leads thousands of advocates across Israel as they campaign for equal rights, rally against injustice and the occupation and push for fairer wages, better working conditions, and a better future for all Israeli and Palestinian families. The group works to build coalitions, connect political priorities with people’s everyday lives and seeks to build a sustained organizing machine.
“We are tackling racism not only by saying it is wrong, but by creating the politics of shared interests — a politics that is centered on self-interest, not on morals or abstract values,” co-founder Alon-Lee Green tells J Street.
Fighting for LGBT+ Equality in Jerusalem
Tel Aviv holds a reputation as the Middle East’s gay mecca, but in Jerusalem, long-running tensions between religious groups and LGBT+ residents has too often led to violence. Jerusalem Open House is a pioneering advocacy, education and organizing hub and launched the city’s first pride parade in 2002.
They also operate the city’s only LGBT+ health clinic and community support center. “We believe that people shouldn’t have to choose between their identities, you can be LGBT+ and a religious person at the same time, there is no contradiction,” Executive Director Alon Shachar tells J Street.
Making The ‘Start-Up Nation’ More Inclusive
PresenTense is an Israeli impact organization that seeks to make entrepreneurship accessible to underprivileged communities across the country. The group has launched a number of business incubators across the country focused on providing the necessary resources for entrepreneurs from the Arab Israeli, Bedouin, and Haredi communities, among others, to start businesses.
“If Israel is to truly be the world’s ‘Startup Nation’ then it must be an inclusive society in which all groups can get a foothold in our entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Khouloud Ayuti, one of the organization’s founders, tells J Street.
The Revolution will be Digitized
Mehazkim is a progressive digital movement that connects and empowers advocates in the fight for a more just, equal, safe, and democratic Israel. They harness the power of social media and — through digital organizing and mobilizing — unite the liberal and progressive camp to build political power.
“Revolutions start online,” says Eran Nissan, the Chief Operating Officer of Mehazkim, an Israeli organization that works to promote the values and policies of the Israeli left in the digital space. “Social media not only allows the untold stories of disenfranchised voices and marginalized actors to reach new audiences but also provides the tools to effectively organize both digitally and physically.”
Creating the Palestinian Startup Nation
The Palestinian Internship Program connects West Bank Palestinians in the technology sector to companies in Israel and beyond seeking talent. By placing participants in roles where they will contribute to the Israeli tech sector, they can ultimately take what they learned back into the Palestinian business sector.
“Our alumni are pushing the cycle forward. They are providing more jobs and opportunities directly in the Palestinian ecosystem and passing down the skills they gained through their internships to their employees,” says Executive Director Anna Gol.
A Vision for a Shared Society
Tzedek Centers are community centers throughout cities in Israel that train and build networks of community organizers. From a single center founded six years ago, there are now seven across Israel. The group’s goal is to open one in every city across the country.
“It’s not just the activists or politically engaged, it’s regular people who want their community to be a better place,” says Executive Director Lev Littman.