Hakeshet Hademocratit Hamizrahit -                      
Annual Activity Report 2003

 

Introduction

Hakeshet Hademocratit Hamizrahit is an apolitical, non-parliamentary social movement whose goal is to affect the current public agenda in the aim of bringing a change into the Israeli society as a whole and to its institutions. The organization is Mizrahi (Jews from Arab and Muslims Lands and the East) in its goals, universal in its beliefs and open to all those who identify with its values. The movement strives to bring about a meaningful change among the Israeli society and implement values of democracy, human rights, social justice, equality and multi cultures.

 

Fields of activity

From the day of its establishment Hakeshet Hademocratit Hamizrahit has been active in 4 main fields: land; employment and unemployment; education and activity in the form of coalitions. During 2003 Hakeshet Hademocratit Hamizrahit expanded the scope of its activity and enlarged its number. This was achieved especially through coalition activities also on the international level. A major part of the organization’s work relates to organizing conferences, media expose and performances on central issues.

Following is a detailed description on each of our activities:

 

1.          Land Struggles – The organization began to act against the inequality in relation to land distribution during the 90’s. As a result of precedent high court ruling the issue was raised up to public discussion for the first time. This court ruling is one of the organization’s meaningful achievements in social related issues in the past several years.

 

Following is a description of the organization’s projects in issues related to land rights and the right for housing:

1.1                  Public Housing: During the 90’s Hakeshet Hademocratit played a major role in passing 3 laws that created a meaningful change in regards to Public Housing (buying and renting) rights. The first, “The Public Housing Law” from 1998. The second, “Public House Tenants Rights Law” from 1998 and third, “The Public House Tenants Regulations” from 2000. The last two determines specifications in regards to ongoing maintenance of public houses during their renting time in public rent. During 2003 Hakeshet acted against the Government suggested nation’s annual budget for 2004 and also against the Law of Regulations. These two government initiatives severely affect the people living in public housing. The Regulation Law completely cancels The Public Housing Law and the budget itself gravely affects the rights and benefits of public housing residents in issues related to buying and renting homes. Hakeshet operated lobby activities at the Kenesset in order to stop the national budget proposition and the Regulation Law.

 

1.2                  Activity as Part of the Lands Forum: On August 28th 2002 the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Keshet’s appeal and against the Israel Lands Administration decision no. 727, 737 and 727 in account of it being unreasonable. During 2003 as part of the Land Forum, whose members include: “Bamakom”, Adam, Teva Ve Din and the Human Right Society, a High Court petition is submitted on the "Passage Orders”. The aim of the petition is to minimize as much as possible the passage orders of the Israeli Lands Administration. These orders enable to implement many programs that change land destinations from agricultural to non-agricultural use. Many of these programs were stopped as a result of the petition. The court discussion on the subject took place during 2003. In addition, Hakeshet decided, as part of the Land Forum, on submitting two additional petitions: the first, Supreme Court Decision 727 “new” in regards for compensations for agriculture land that’s destination was changed (the decision that replaced decision 727 that was canceled by the supreme court). The second, Supreme Court Attribution of Housing territory. The organization supports writing the private house on the name of the farmer’s in light of the regulations decided upon in the Public House Law but fights against regulations that provides benefits for changing a lands destination.

 

1.3                  The Dankner Deal: On October 22nd 2003 the Israel Lands Administration authorized the agreement between Israel’s Salt Company and Dankner family. The agreement enabled to change the destiny of 2000 dunams, owned by the Dankner family that were used to the production of salt in Atlit and Eilat into housing land. As a result of this change in the land’s destiny the Dankner family will make tens of millions of shekels. This is an outrageous and unprecedented deal in regards to the scope of land and its worth. On November 17th 2003 Hakeshet held a conference on “Land, Wealth and Government”, as a campaign to begin the “Dankner Deal” struggle. 

 

1.4                  The Civic Agreement Forum for the Examination of Land Related Issues: The goal of this project is to create a platform for discussions among different sectors of the Israeli society on issues relating to just distribution and equality on issues relating to land distribution and public housing in Israel. This initiative calls upon social organizations and other groups to come together and create a new land policy in Israel that is based on solidarity, equality and distributional justice. In 2003 Hakeshet held meeting with a variety of organizations including: Musawa and friends from the Kibbutz Movement in order to promote the project.

 

2.          Education – In regards to the different issues related to education in Israel the organization chose to focus on the following 4:

2.1                  Studying Programs: The studying programs that exist in schools today in all of the educational institutions are characterized by European approach and do not relate to oriental (Mizrahi) issues. During 2003 Hakeshet was able to add to the Bagrut history curriculum 2 chapters that relate to Jewish oriental history. This is a significant achievement that is a precedent in Israel’s study programs. The organization will continue to operate in order to make further changes in studying programs and thus make them more balanced and multi cultural.

 

2.2                  High Education: During 2003 Hakeshet was part of a Jewish and Arab Organizational Coalition that fought against bringing back the psychometric exams and against the Mitzraf system (Psychometric Supreme Court Ruling). On Tuesday, February 9th the Court dismissed the coalition’s claim on the issue of lack of authority.

2.3                  Activities against Ministry of Education Policy: The aim of Hakeshet Hademocratit is to operate in different ways in order to fight against the educational cutbacks and privatization that among other things passes the responsibility more to the parents and external institutions. Hkeshet sees itself dedicated to support and assist in local struggles in the field of education. During 2003 the Keshet cooperated with parents from Hess School in their struggle against closing the school (a struggle that failed); With parents from Rogozin school against shutting down their school and more.

 

2.4                  Vocational Studying: Vocational education is a trap that does not enable its graduates to break the cycle of poverty and distress they come from. Only 12% from the vocational and technological students study in the university. 70% are unqualified to register. During 2003 Hakeshet Hademocratit continued in leading a coalition for education equality. This struggle has two main goals: first, total cancellation of the vocational study tracks that lead to poverty (hairdressing and tinsmith work). Second, adding the option of attending a full Bagrut track in the vocational schools. On March 9th 2003 we held a conference on the issue of “Canceling the Vocational Schools as a Means to Increase Educational Equality in Israel”.

 

3.          Culture - Hakeshet Hademocratit works in order to promote Mizrahi culture and artists.

3.1                  Mizrahi and Arab in Israeli Arts: The goal of this project is to enhance the presence of Mizrahi art in the Israeli cultural landscape and emphasize the relationship between the culture and the community from which is rises. The project will include an exhibition that is comprised of 10 shows that will take place in 10 different community centers throughout the country. The exhibition will raise discussions the elements of local culture among Jews who come from Arabic and Islam countries and among the Palestinians citizens and artists whose local cultural identity is meaningful to their work. Throughout 2003 we have began making contacts with Arab organizations in order to develop the project.

3.2                  The Annual Anthropological Conference: During 2003 Hakeshet Hademocratit initiated a public discussion in order to investigate the level of participation among Palestinian and Mizrahi researches in anthropological researches and the total lack of their representation in anthropological faculties. The initiative began through the Annual Anthropological Conference and caused much repercussion.

 

4.          Coalition Activity – In addition to the ongoing activity of Hakeshet Hademocratit its members are key leaders in a variety of organizations that deal with social issues such as land, employment and unemployment, education, women rights, health and ad-hook coalitions such as the coalition for the Feminist Conference and the Coalition for the Activism Festival and more.

 

5.          Conferences, media, lectures, public appearances – One of the organization’s main goal is to rise issues into public discussions and create a “new discussion”. In order to achieve this goal Hakeshet Hademocratit organizes conferences and operates to forward media expose and takes part in a variety of public appearances. Following are a few examples: during 2003 Hakeshet Hademocratit organized 6 conferences –

1) January 23rd 2003 – Election Discussion 2003: Between Identity Politics to Social Justice Politics 2) March 3rd 2003 – Education in Israel: Seeds of Inequality. 3) March 9th 2003 – Canceling the Vocational Schools in Israel as a Means to Increase Educational Equality. 4) May 15th 2003 – the Supreme Court in a Multi Cultural Society: Questions of Representation and Justice. 5) June 12th 2003 – Mizrahi Litreture: Our Story. 6) November 17th 2003 – Land, Wealth and Government - Hakeshet Hademocratit against the Dankner-Israel Deal. In addition, members of Hakeshet Hademocratit participated in a variety of media sources in regards to its activities. Members of Hakeshet Hademocratit participated and preformed in tens of social and economic conferences and gave over 50 lectures in different forums on many issues. A few of the lectures were gives to farmers and settlements representatives at time in a hostile environment.