Our annual conference was a resounding success! More than 500 attendees came to hear 41 panelists. Lawmakers, public officials, labor leaders, city council members, heads of NGOs, journalists and activists came together to discuss both the challenges and successes of the movement for social justice in Israel.
We opened the conference with a presentation of the results of a survey conducted into Israelis’ positions on social-economic issues. The survey showed that since 2011 Israelis increasingly take more progressive social and economic positions: the right of of workers in new industries to organize and bargain collectively, a fairer division of income and capital and expansion of the welfare state. The survey’s results can be seen here in an interview with SEA’s director Rami Hod (Walla! Hebrew).
We held round table discussions about the contemporary social and economic trends in Israel and forged new partnerships for the future. During the conference we discussed not only the challenges but also major successes: since 2008, over 150,000 new workers from all over the country have formed unions, making Israel one of the very few countries whose labor movement is growing; parents’ campaigns to have the state provide compulsory education for three year olds and increase the number of teaching aides in preschools; mass protests that forced the government to fix unconstitutional aspects of the natural gas deal; and halting the privatization of Israel’s public health services. Meanwhile, people are increasingly dedicated to social justice, be it local communities improving their self-organizing capabilities or lawmakers embracing progressive issues. The 2011 social justice protest has spurred people from all socio-economic and cultural backgrounds to join in the fight for a juster, more equal economy and society in Israel.
Rami Hod, SEA’s director general, opens the conference by highlighting the progressive camp’s achievements and the challenges it still faces in the struggle for social justice in Israel.
Our first annual conference has been an excellent starting point for future joint ventures among community and labor leaders, Members of the Knesset, local leaders and academics. In the following years, we will continue to discuss together the successes and challenges facing the social movement in Israel as well as how we can work together to strengthen grassroots level engagement and promote economic and social justice, thereby helping all our citizens, men and women, Jewish and Arab, secular and religious, realize a better life.