Community Organizing Overview

We bring together diverse citizens around shared local goals, arming them with the community organizing tools needed to mobilize their communities, effectively engage with local political processes, and win everyday life improvements. In the process, we create proof-of-concept that the Common Good is not only feasible, but advantageous.

We believe that if we can strengthen the ties between diverse groups of neighbors on the local level, we can create a thriving democratic culture that will strengthen Israel on a national level.

“Community organizing is revolutionary – it is the best thing to happen to Rehovot since I’ve been living here because it brings results – people now know to build power and know who to talk to when they have a problem. Organizing creates an unexpected connection between different communities – right-wing and left-wing, Ashkenazi, Ethiopian, religious, LGBT – and together we are working to create common cause and get the equality we deserve. For so long there was discrimination against Ethiopians; the municipality would use us to get money but there was no improvement in our lives. Now we know how to get what we need, like when we were able to extend the hours of day-care for 600 parents in poor neighborhoods that were paying more than parents in richer neighborhoods. There’s nothing like this connection of communities in any other group in Rehovot and I hope that we can help more people solve their problems and build more community here.”

Aragau Tesme, 41; Ethiopian-Israeli construction worker

Challenge

There is a general lack of collaboration amongst Israel’s diverse identity groups.

Additionally, Israel’s marginalized and peripheral communities are excluded from political, economic, and other forms of capital, preventing the ability to improve their everyday life circumstances.

Opportunity

Although national politics are mired by a “symbolic politics” that searches for wedge issues to accentuate the differences between different identities, at the local level, the pragmatic nature of daily life affords the opportunity to engage citizens in a different manner, where relationships can trump ideological separation.

Approach

We are currently training 30 organizers from 12 cities across Israel in our community organizing methodology – which was adapted from international techniques to the Israeli context through our pilot work.

Our pilot program ran from the summer of 2015 until the summer of 2018 – we worked in depth in five communities:  – Jerusalem, Ashdod, Rehovot, Tirat Carmel, and Mateh Yehuda.  We invested heavily in training a core of local leaders, and in supporting the movements they initiated, engaging hundreds in each of the community organizations, coming together from different neighborhoods and backgrounds – working together for change that works for all.

Through this work, we helped lead and assist campaigns that cross sectoral boundaries and have brought real improvements to the lives of thousands of residents.

Beyond the dozens of campaign wins, our work created real, deep relationships between diverse neighbors who never before interacted in a meaningful way – ranging from Religious Zionists and Haredim in Jerusalem to Ethiopians, Mizrachim, and Ashkenazim in Rehovot. And while working in depth in our five communities, through public events and networking, we also built a large following to our work – culminating in our local municipalities conference in July 2018, three months before the 2018 municipal elections, attended by 350 participants from no less than 70 different cities and towns throughout multicultural Israel (see the summation film of the conference here).