The Canadian model of Rights-based community practice was first tested in Israel more than 15 years ago with the launch of Community Advocacy (CA), which closed in 2014. It has been responsible for landmark policy changes that affect low-income and marginalized citizens of Israel, pioneering and strengthening the development of the rights-based community practice model in the Middle East with institutional partners including Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Shatil: Leading Social Change, and Sapir College that help guide the work of rights centres. The Sapir College operates a RBCP centre in Sderot and is in the process of developing a new centre in Ofakim. A network of centres across Southern Israel continues to grow under the umbrella of partner Sapir College.
Below are some highlights:
Welfare: The Israeli government’s Welfare-to-Work Program made it difficult for people unable to work to access welfare benefits. The legislation disproportionately penalized women, the disabled and religious individuals. Through a coalition spearheaded by our East and West Jerusalem centres, three years of advocacy and legal work finally paid off. In 2010 the program was cancelled.
Housing: Three groundbreaking public housing laws passed following persistent campaigns led by ICAN’s Israeli centres, guaranteeing public housing tenants the right to purchase their homes, the right to adequate repairs and maintenance and the right of second generation tenants to take over contracts. 30,000 low-income families have since been able to purchase homes.
Education: Access to early childhood education in Lod for hundreds of Ethiopian and Arab children; a high school in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Bir Hadaj, increasing access to education for girls.
Health: Mandated dental care for all Israeli children, through CA led coalition; health clinics with improved services in Bedouin unrecognized villages; access to medication through the health basket for senior citizens.
Food Security: Stopping the VAT (value added tax) on basic goods such as fruits and vegetables; community food cooperatives in three communities in Israel, helping low income people save money and build better budgets for their families.