New Israel Fund Action Guide

For over 40 years, the New Israel Fund has protected and strengthened democracy, equality, justice, pluralism, and human rights in Israel.

The films presented at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan’s Other Israel Film Festival, founded by visionary NIF International Board Member Carole Zabar, provide a window into the lives of Israelis and Palestinians from all walks of life and every corner of the land.

Every year, our NIF Action Guide connects the issues illuminated by the films of the Other Israel Film Festival with the work of movements, organizations, activists, and leaders on the ground that we support, and with tips on how to get involved.

To learn more about New Israel Fund and our work, please click here.

Click on the film titles below to learn more about how to take action beyond the film:

Action Guide:
In Israel, like so many other places across the globe, soccer serves as a bridge between people and cultures. Unfortunately, racism in soccer, and sports in general, is widespread. Over the last decade, groups in Israel working to combat racism and build a shared society have made a special effort to kick racism out of all public spheres, including stadiums, where passions often run high.

NIF’s Kick It Out Israel promotes coexistence in Israel through soccer and seeks to rid the sport of the racism exhibited by some teams and fans by monitoring racist incidents at professional soccer matches and running educational activities and advocacy campaigns.

NIF grantees also work to build a shared society in Israel, including Sikkuy, a shared project of Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel, which works locally and nationally to promote governmental policies that ensure full equality for all of Israel’s citizens, and Givat Haviva, which works to build an inclusive and truly shared society by engaging communities in collective action to advance Israeli democracy.

NIF Grantees and Partners:
Kick It Out Israel
Sikkuy: The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality
Givat Haviva – The Center for Shared Society: Havazelet Cultural & Educational Institutions of Hashomer Hatzair

Crossings

Dir. Itzik Lerner | 2020 | 88 minutes | Documentary

An in-depth look into the training and activity of soldiers serving at the controversial checkpoints between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. For the first time in their lives, these young Israelis must play a direct role in the conflict. This behind-the-scenes perspective is a glimpse into the process and feelings of the soldiers.

A group of soldiers walk in formation

Action Guide:
Every year, thousands of young Israelis are drafted into the army and serve in the occupied territories, often at checkpoints that control the movement of Palestinians who live there. For many of these soldiers, this is their first encounter with the millions of Palestinians who live under Israel’s control. What happens when their service ends and they return home?

Founded in 2004 by veteran soldiers who served in the army, NIF grantee Breaking the Silence provides an opportunity for soldiers to reflect on their time in the army by collecting testimonies about their service in order to raise public awareness of the costs and consequences of the occupation.

At the same time, the volunteer Israeli women of MachsomWatch monitor West Bank checkpoints in order to educate the Israeli public about the effects of the occupation, while NIF grantee Yesh Din has worked for years to protect human rights through legal advocacy and by educating the Israeli public on the reality of the occupation.

NIF Grantees and Partners:
MachsomWatch: Women for Human Rights and Against the Occupation
Breaking the Silence (Shovrim Shtika)
Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights

‘Til Kingdom Come

Dir. Maya Zinshtein | 2020 | 76 minutes | Documentary

Millions of American Evangelicals are praying for the State of Israel. Pastors encourage an impoverished Kentucky community, “the forgotten people of America,” to donate to Israel in anticipation of Jesus’s impending return. A deep look into the controversial bond between Evangelicals and Jews, in a story of faith, power, and money, revealing how America’s Right is led by an end-times apocalyptic countdown.

A group of people pray with their arms up. Above them there is a large Star of David.

Action Guide:
American Evangelicals have enthusiastically embraced the Trump Administration’s Israel policies, chief among them moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and cutting aid to the Palestinian Authority. But the evangelical community is diverse and certainly not monolithic when it comes to Israel.

That is why organizations like Telos lead trips to Israel and the occupied territories in order for evangelicals to engage with Israelis and Palestinians and the reality on the ground in a way that emphasizes security, dignity, and freedom for both peoples in equal measure.

Meanwhile, groups like J Street and Americans for Peace Now (APN) are also working to change the conversation and ensure a just American foreign policy on this and other issues.

NIF Grantees and Partners:
Telos
J Street
Americans for Peace Now (APN)

**While NIF does not provide financial support to non-Israeli organizations, we regularly partner with Telos, J Street and APN on issues related to building a just and democratic Israel.

Kings of Capitol Hill

Dir. Mor Loushy | 2020 | 90 minutes | Documentary

AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) is the spearhead of the pro-Israeli lobby in the US. What started out as a liberal grassroots organization has become one of the most influential lobby organizations in America. For the past 60 years, AIPAC has maintained a strict “no interview” policy. Now, for the first time, its founding fathers are speaking out, granting full access to the untold story of the organization and to the turbulent relationship between Israel and the US.

Benjamin Netanyahu stands at a podium

Action Guide:
In recent decades, it has become more acceptable for people to publicly voice their criticism of Israeli policy, including the 53-year-long occupation. Committed activists and progressive organizations are leading these intergenerational movements for change and carving a new path forward for U.S.-Israel engagement, including advocating for the rights of Palestinians who live under Israel’s control.

In 2019, 10 leading organizations representing Americans who are committed to pursuing democracy, equality and peace in Israel announced the launch of the Progressive Israel Network (PIN). The coalition provides a strong, unified voice in support of its members’ common goals: democracy and equal rights, religious freedom and pluralism, and a two-state solution that would secure a peaceful future for Israel and end the occupation.

NIF Grantees and Partners:
Progressive Israel Network (PIN)

Golda

Dir. Sagi Bornstein, Udi Nir, Shani Rozanes | 2019 | 85 minutes | Documentary

Shortly before her passing, Golda Meir was interviewed for Israeli television. After the filming ended, the cameras kept rolling, recording an intimate talk with the first and only woman to ever rule Israel. As she lit one cigarette after the other, Golda spoke freely, pleading her case for her term as Prime Minister—five turbulent years that secured her place in history, albeit at a high personal cost.

Golda VISITING AN IDF SOUTHERN COMMAND OUTPOST IN THE SINAI

Action Guide:
Golda Meir is a figure that looms large in Israeli — and American Jewish — historical imagination. One of the more controversial moments during her tenure as Israeli prime minister was her 1971 meeting with a group of young activists who called themselves the Israeli Black Panthers, who were fed up with discrimination against the Mizrahi community. She famously referred to them afterward as “lo nehmadim” or “not nice [people].”

This meeting was featured extensively in Golda, and the legacy of the Israeli Black Panthers lives on today. NIF grantee Lo Nehmadim / Lo Nehmadot (“Not Nice”) supports neighborhood activists working to bring issues of poverty to the public consciousness and promotes policy change related to social rights, public housing, and discrimination. Meanwhile, the Association for Distributive Justice promotes the equitable distribution of resources in Israel through monitoring governmental activities, advocacy efforts, and legal petitions.

NIF Grantees and Partners:
Lo Nehmadim / Lo Nehmadot (through Achoti)
The Association for Distributive Justice

Laila in Haifa

Dir. Amos Gitai | 2020 | 99 minutes | Narrative

One fateful night in a club in the diverse port city of Haifa, the interweaving stories of five women come together. The film presents a snapshot of contemporary life in one of the last remaining spaces where Israelis and Palestinians come together to engage in face-to-face relationships.

A woman with short dark hair stands in a room washed with red light

Action Guide:
Haifa is a diverse city, home to Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jewish Israelis of all origins and backgrounds. It is one of the spaces where Israelis and Palestinians come together to engage in face-to-face relationships, and where activists, ordinary citizens, and organizations work toward a shared society.

Kayan is a women-led NIF grantee that works to address the root causes of gender-based discrimination, defend and promote the rights of Palestinian women in Israel, and ensure their integration in decision-making positions.

Mahapach-Taghir is a Jewish-Arab, feminist, grassroots organization working for social change and a just Israeli society with equal socioeconomic and educational opportunities for all.

NIF Grantees and Partners:
Kayan – Feminist Organization
Mahapach Taghir

Ma’abarot

Dir. Dina Zvi Riklis | 2019 | 84 minutes | Documentary

The Israeli transit camps of the 1950s were a controversial enterprise, housing hundreds of thousands of new immigrants from different parts of the world, transitioning them into becoming part of the Israeli cultural tapestry. The film unravels multiple stories of the camp residents, examining and discovering many surprising new details while shattering stereotypes prevalent in the current Israeli consciousness.

A group of children and adults stand in front of tents on sand

Action Guide:
While long known, the story of the Israeli transit camps of the 1950s and Israel’s treatment of its Mizrahi community has steadily come to light in recent years through film, art, and activism. The transit camps themselves have had a lasting impact on those who lived in them and the trajectory of their lives.

A story covered prominently in Ma’abarot is that of the Stolen Children Affair. In the 1950s, thousands of Yemenite, Mizrahi, and Balkan children were taken from their families by the state and given up to Ashkenazi families looking to adopt.

NIF grantee Amram raises awareness about these abductions as well as systemic racism and discrimination, while promoting Mizrahi culture and heritage. NIF’s Public Housing Forum, meanwhile, is an umbrella group of social change organizations working to revitalize and increase public housing in Israel and reverse the lasting legacy of discriminatory housing practices.

NIF Grantees and Partners:
Amram (Ru’ach Ha’Mizrach Association)
The Public Housing Forum

My Dearest Enemy

Dir. Zipora Trope | 2020 | 100 minutes | Narrative

The story of a friendship between two women—Alice, a Palestinian-Israeli professor, and Maya, a Jewish-Israeli artist. The two women met in Jerusalem as young girls, but grew up taking very different paths.The film spans over 25 years as they struggle to keep their friendship in the midst of their communities’ ever growing conflict.

Action Guide:
Israel’s rightward drift has included the passage of laws like the 2018 Nation-State Law, which entrenched divisions and inequality. However, organizations like the Abraham Fund Initiatives (TAFI) and communities like Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam model for us what a shared and equal society – one that is committed to peace, justice, and equality for all Israelis – can look like.

The Abraham Fund Initiatives was part of a coalition that mobilized protests against the Nation-State Law, including the world’s largest-ever Arabic lesson in the heart of Tel Aviv. Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam is a vil­lage of Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel ded­icated to building justice, peace, and equality in the country and the region.

NIF Grantees and Partners:
The Abraham Fund Initiatives (TAFI)
Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam

One More Jump

Dir. Emanuele Gerosa | 2019 | 83 minutes | Documentary

Abdallah and Jehad are athletes and old friends from Gaza whose choices have led them down diverging paths. Abdallah has managed to escape to Italy to pursue his professional parkour career. Jehad still lives in Gaza, caring for his family and training young athletes who see sports as a means of hope and release amidst the conflict.

A man looks to the right

Action Guide:
Over half of the population of Gaza is under the age of 18. With limited opportunities and movement severely restricted, Gaza – which is home to nearly 2 million people – is one of the most unlivable places on the planet. One More Jump sheds light on this harsh reality for Gaza residents. NIF grantee Gisha is one of the organizations that advocates for the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents, while B’Tselem shines a light on the harsh reality for Palestinians whose daily lives are controlled by the occupation and advocates for an end to Israel’s siege on Gaza.

NIF Grantees and Partners:
Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement
B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories

Birth Right

Dir. Inbar Horesh | 2019 | 25 minutes | Narrative Short

Natasha is participating in a trip to Israel organized to encourage immigration of descendants of Jews. The group arrives at a Bedouin camp in the desert, where two soldiers join them for the night.

A group of young women in blue t shirts stand in front of two Israeli soldiers.

Action Guide:
Birthright has become a rite of passage for many young Jews across the world, though the trips are not without controversy. Many Jews from the former Soviet Union have traveled on these trips and connected with the Russian-speaking community in Israel, a group that is finding its voice in Israeli society. NIF grantee Morashtenu (“Our Heritage” in Hebrew) promotes the full-scale involvement of Russian-speakers in Israeli civil life and advances the values of democracy, human dignity, tolerance, and multiculturalism.

NIF Grantees and Partners:
Morashtenu (Our Heritage): The Charter for Democracy

Home Constructors

Dir. Nitzan Rozen | 2019 | 4 minutes | Documentary Short

Five Palestinian workers try to find their place alongside their Jewish-Israeli manager during Israel’s Memorial Day. Another worker who is a refugee from Darfur brings yet another level of complexity to this somber day.

A group of men stand in a construction zone

Action Guide:
Memorial Day is one of the most somber moments on the Israeli calendar. Home Constuctors captures the complex dynamics between Jewish Israelis, Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinians from the West Bank, and refugees and asylum seekers on this complicated day.

Several NIF grantees provide assistance to these groups. Kav LaOved (KLO) — Worker’s Hotline monitors the construction industry, one of the most dangerous in Israel, and provides legal aid to workers, most of whom are Palestinian citizens and Palestinians holding work permits to enter Israel from the West Bank.

The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants provides crucial legal aid to refugees and asylum seekers in detention, and engages in advocacy work on their behalf. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), which works for the human and civil rights of all in Israel and the occupied territories, has successfully brought several challenges regarding the treatment of asylum seekers to Israel’s Supreme Court.

NIF Grantees and Partners:
The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)
Kav LaOved (KLO) — Worker’s Hotline

Image of Victory

Dir. Adi Mishnayot | 2019 | 29 minutes | Documentary Short

In 2014, Israel is at war in Gaza. Uri, a wounded Israeli soldier, is rushed to the hospital where he finds himself unwillingly turned into a war hero. A critical look into the Israeli perceptions of glorification of war and heroism.

a man lays in a hospital bed

Action Guide:
The 2014 Gaza War was measured in lives and destruction — for Palestinians and Israelis. Thousands of young Israeli soldiers served in Gaza and hundreds, like Uri (the subject in Image of Victory), came home wounded. What does it look like when the camera lens is held up to Israeli perceptions of war and heroism? NIF grantee Breaking the Silence holds a mirror to Israeli society by collecting soldiers’ testimonies about their service, including in the 2014 Gaza War, to raise public awareness of the costs and consequences of war and the occupation.

NIF Grantees and Partners:
Breaking the Silence (Shovrim Shtika)

Jegna

Dir. Gal Sagy | 2019 | 9 minutes | Narrative Short

While her family is away, Michal, a 17-year-old Ethiopian-Israeli girl, looks after her 76-year-old grandmother, Tata, who has dementia. When Michal receives a surprising text saying that her boyfriend has been given leave from the army, she considers changing her plans.

A teenage girl lies on her side and looks at her phone.

Action Guide:
Thousands of Israelis have protested government corruption in front of the prime minister’s residence on Balfour Street in recent months. These peaceful demonstrations have often been met with water cannons, unlawful arrests, and other violent tactics from police. For many protesters, this is their first encounter with police violence. But for Ethiopian Israelis and other minority communities, police brutality and racism has been a lived experience for decades. NIF grantee the Association of Ethiopian Jews (AEJ) combats racism and provides assistance to Ethiopian immigrants in absorption, education, housing, and the preservation of Ethiopian culture and tradition. Meanwhile, Tebeka advances the rights of Ethiopian Israelis by providing free legal services, facilitating their integration within Israeli society, and cultivating a new generation of leaders and legal scholars.

NIF Grantees and Partners:
Association of Ethiopian Jews (AEJ)
Tebeka – Advocacy for Equality & Justice for Ethiopian Israelis

The Prophet

Dir. Ilan Rubin Fields | 2019 | 68 minutes | Documentary

The story of Israel’s most radical politician, Rabbi Meir Kahane. The American rabbi’s teachings remain one of the largest influences of Israel’s right wing. Today, thirty years after Kahane himself was barred from Israeli parliament, “Kahanism” has seeped into Israeli society, and Kahane’s prophecy about the divide between Judaism and democracy echoes today in the Knesset halls.

Rabbi Meir Kahane yells into a mic with his finger in the air

Action Guide:
Religious extremism is an issue that plagues and diminishes any society. Israel is unfortunately not immune to this. Today, there are several NIF grantees that combat extremism. Tag Meir (“Light Tag” in Hebrew), a coalition of over 50 organizations and institutions working in partnership against racism and violence, seeks to bridge divides and mobilize Jews and Arabs to show up for one another in the wake of hate crimes. Tag Meir activists take part in solidarity visits, vigils, and peaceful demonstrations, supporting democratic values and building bridges between Jewish and Arab Israelis. The Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) monitors extremist rabbis, and fights religious extremism and gender segregation in the public sphere.

NIF Grantees and Partners:
Tag Meir – Light Tag Forum
IRAC: Israel Religious Action Center

Soft Grass

Dir. Shadi Habib Allah | 15 minutes | Narrative Short

Hussein lives in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, and is in desperate need of solace. On the morning of his father’s funeral, his pet deer runs amok, all while the funeral procession is held up at a checkpoint.

A man kneels and feeds a small deer.

Action Guide:
The city of Jerusalem is among the most complicated, sacred, and contested land on Earth. But what is life actually like for the people, including over 300,000 East Jerusalem Palestinians, who call the city home, and what hardships do they face? NIF grantee Ir Amin (“City of Nations” in Hebrew) works to shine a light on the geopolitical reality of Jerusalem as a shared but highly segregated city, and works to render Jerusalem a more equitable and sustainable city for Israeli and Palestinian residents.

NIF Grantees and Partners:
Ir Amim

Swing

Dir. Shadi Habib Allah | 2017 | 11 minutes | Narrative Short

Brother and sister Muhand and Rasha move to a new village, and are subjected to ridicule and scorn because the local children know that their mother was murdered by their father in an “honor killing.”

A young boy and girl walk towards a tree in a field

Action Guide:
Gender-based violence is an issue that sadly plagues many societies, including Israel. Over the last four decades, the New Israel Fund has been on the leading edge of the fight against gender-based violence, establishing the first rape crisis centers in the 1980s. Today, there is a large network of organizations working to combat violence against women, including Women Against Violence (WAV), which works to advance the rights of Palestinian-Israeli women, expand their influence on centers of power, and eliminate gender-based violence.

NIF Grantees and Partners:
Women Against Violence (WAV)

White Eye

Dir. Tomer Shushan | 2019 | 21 minutes | Narrative Short

A man finds out that his stolen bicycle now belongs to a stranger. In his attempts to retrieve his bicycle, he struggles to retain his humanity.

A man squats next to a locked bicycle. He is also on the phone.

The Present

Director: Farah Nabulsi, 2019 | 24 minutes | Narrative Short

Yusef (Saleh Bakri) and his daughter Yasmine set out to buy his wife an anniversary gift. Between the soldiers, segregated roads, and checkpoints, how hard can it be to go shopping?

A man looks down as two soldiers go through his bag