“The Nation Demands Social Justice” – For All

August 14, 2011

Event Poster for Beer-Sheva Rally that Reads, “The Negev Demands Social Justice”

I’m forgoing my perfectionist leanings because I want to tell you about the Israel protests tonight. I attended the Beer-Sheva rally, estimated at 35,000, and followed closely on Twitter and Facebook the progress of the protest in Haifa as well. (I consider Haifa and Beer-Sheva to be my Israeli hometowns.)

In Beer-Sheva, it was a warm, dry night. The atmosphere was that of a street festival, and babies and small children abounded, despite the late hour.

But something interesting was happening. Taking the focus off Tel Aviv changed the nature of the protests. In Haifa and Beer-Sheva, we saw a far greater inclusiveness in the protests than we had seen before, with gay pride flags flying high, signs for handicapped rights, and most of all, significant mike time given to Arab Israeli issues.

In Beer-Sheva, Hanan Alsana (חנאן אלסנע), a Bedouin woman, was one of the headline speakers and a highlight of the night to many.

Live Coverage from the Ground

I know many people are uncomfortable with Twitter, and that’s fine, so I’m bringing it to you. Here’s a live account of what people were saying as the protests happened.

— Keep reading for photos, videos, funny stories, and recommendations of what to read next. Most importantly, I look forward to hearing your thoughts — 

Political Donation will Help Israeli Arabs Volunteer for National Service

December 26, 2007
Photo by Zainub

Don’t you wish sometimes that politicians would just set aside the their differences and join hands to work on making the world a better place? Isn’t that why they wanted to work in public service to begin with?

Avigdor Lieberman, the heavy hitting leader of Israel’s Yisrael Beiteinu Party, is laying aside his political guns and partnering with Arcadi Gaydamak’s Social Justice Party to promote Israeli Arab volunteering.

Promoting National Service for Israeli Arabs


Yisrael Beiteinu has just donated $128,600 to promote Israeli Arabs’ participation in Israel’s National Service. Reports from the Arab community assert that 76% of Arab youth would like to volunteer, but don’t know how to go about it. There is very little precedent and what with Israel’s often hostile perception of Arabs, it’s hard to get started.

Lieberman states: “These people need to feel wanted here in Israel and not the other way around… the volunteering issue is a crucial one, this kind of volunteer work can bridge gaps between Jews and Arabs and carries a positive message.”

Growing Number of Israeli Arabs in National Service

The number of Israeli Arabs in the National Service (Sherut Leumi) is growing: 2007 has the highest numbers of participation yet. Israeli Arab enlistment has grown almost 100% from 2006 to 2007 with 600 Arabs now serving in Israel’s 12,000 person force. Volunteers typically serve the community directly, working in schools, community centers, hospitals, nursing homes, and other social institutions.

Resistance from the Arab community is high and potential volunteers face expected challenges. Ha’aretz reports:

Still, many Israeli Arabs oppose such volunteering, calling it an attempt by the Jewish establishment to blur the Arab-Palestinian identity of the younger generation and “Israelize” them. Another claim is that the state is using the national service to indirectly recruit Arab youth for a kind of military service.

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