By Idit Klein
I am writing from Israel where last night we moved from Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, to Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. This marks a rapid, head-spinning shift from sadness and mourning — because everyone in this country, all peoples who call this land home, know someone who lost their life in the many years of conflict and bloodshed — to celebration at what many consider to be the miracle of 75 years since the establishment of Israel. Many, but not all, because the promise of Israeli’s Declaration of Independence — a nation that will “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants” — that promise has yet to be achieved.
If you have spent time in Israel before, you know that it is always an intense place to be. This period of political turmoil has been a particularly intense time to be here. In the past week, I attended two protests and could have participated in far more. At both protests, the energy was so powerful. It felt unstoppable. And indeed, the streets keep filling and banners proclaiming “Live Free from Dictatorship” fill the skies.
For most people at the protests, the focus is on stopping the proposed judicial coup which would threaten to overturn long held LGBTQ rights and so many civil liberties; for some, the focus is on ending the Occupation; and for others, it is on protesting threats to women’s rights. To be sure, there is a deep, enormous sense of fear but also a sense that the power of the people is pushing this society to crack open and reveal radical new possibilities for a more just society.
In honor of Yom Ha’atzmaut, I want to lift up the work of several colleague Israeli organizations, all Keshet partners, each of which are on the front lines of building an Israel where all can live with dignity. I’ll be making donations to these organizations and invite you to join me.
IGY: Israel Gay Youth — offering social support and educational programs for LGBTQ youth ages 12-23
Maavarim — providing support services to and engaging in advocacy for the trans community
Hoshen — offering educational programs in Israeli schools to eradicate homo/bi/transphobia and build understanding of LGBTQ identity and experience
New Israel Fund — supports the full range of justice organizations in Israel, including the new pro-democracy movement
I applaud these leaders and activists for their courage, vision, and tenacity in fighting for an Israel that someday all will happily celebrate. Ken Yehi Ratzon. May it be so.