The Social Guard is a grassroots civil society organization that promotes social justice, increases civic participation and advances a more democratic, egalitarian and inclusive Israeli society.
THE NEED – DISILLUSIONMENT WITH THE SYSTEM
In the summer of 2011, hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets to demand that the government address the rising cost of living and a range of long-neglected social issues and to express their growing distrust in elected leaders and democratic institutions. The protests, the largest in Israel’s history, marked a significant social awakening among the wider public who, regardless of their political views, were no longer willing to accept the lack of accountability of elected leaders, lack of transparency and the influence of private interests on national policy.
MISSION & GOALS
The Social Guard was established in 2011 as a strategic response to the public’s disillusionment with the democratic process. The Social Guard’s mission is to promote social justice, increase civic engagement among the general Israeli public and create a more inclusive and democratic Israeli society. The leading, volunteer-based social change organization in Israel, The Social Guard’s goals include:
- Empowering Israeli citizens to be active partners in decision-making on social issues
- Promoting a public discourse that emphasizes the values of social justice and equality
- Increasing civic engagement among marginalized populations from all sectors of Israeli society.
- Strengthening democratic processes and increasing transparency in decision-making bodies
- Flagship Project – Knesset (Israeli Parliament) Monitoring: The Social Guard provides an innovative platform for civil engagement by training citizens to monitor Knesset hearings and alert the media to issues of concern surrounding the decision-making process. Thanks to the efforts of dedicated volunteers, The Social Guard succeeds in monitoring 90% of Knesset hearings relating to social issues and their presence in the Knesset incentivizes greater accountability among MKs (Members of Knesset).
- Local Civic Engagement: The Social Guards works with several groups of citizens across the country, empowering them with the tools and resources to influence local government decision-making and to make positive, social changes in their local communities.
- Serving as a Social Policy “Watchdog”: Researching and publishing analyses of legislation in terms of their potential impact on social justice, human rights and equality. With the assistance of volunteers who gather relevant data and research the topics, The Social Guard produces analyses, summaries and briefs written in simple language, accessible in several languages and widely disseminated among MKs, legislative staff, journalists, social activists, and Social Guard’s online community.
- Increasing Transparency – “The Social Index”: The Social Guard tracks and analyzes MKs’ voting records on social issues, culminating in an in-depth report, “The Social Index” that is published twice per year (at the end of each Knesset session). Over the past five years, the report has gained significant credibility and prominence in the public discourse, and is celebrated by high-ranking MKs from all parties.
- Educational Initiatives: The Social Guard reaches out to the next generation of Israeli leaders on the importance of social justice, civic engagement and strong democratic institutions, through educational projects with high school students and students at pre-army leadership academies.
- Budgetary Transparency: In partnership with two other NGOs, the Public Knowledge Workshop and the Movement for Freedom of Information, The Social Guard is investing in the close monitoring of the state budget and specifically, budget transfers, which are notoriously opaque. The Social Guard also trains NGOs on how to follow and influence budget decisions that impact their agenda.
ACHIEVEMENTS & IMPACT
- Public Outreach: With close to 14,000 Facebook followers, posts that reach close to 300,000 people and extensive coverage in the traditional media (approximately 70 media appearance per year), The Social Guard is gaining traction and visibility.
- Activist Volunteers: Since 2011, over 1,000 Israeli citizens have been directly involved with The Social Guard’s activities. To date, The Social Guard has trained over 300 volunteers who represent the broad political, social, and ethnic spectrum of Israeli society.
- Recognition: In 2015, The Marker, the leading, Israeli economic newspaper, ranked The Social Guard number five out of the top 100 most influential players in strengthening democracy in Israel.
- Impact on Policy: The Social Guard’s work has influenced a diverse range of socio-economic, human rights and social justice issues including: The Israeli-Arab population, environmental concerns, gender equality, disability rights and more.
Lia Nirgad – Co-Founder and Chairman
Daniel Dor – Co-Founder
Nirit Moskovich – Executive Director
Michelle Eden – Research coordinator
Daphna Pelles – Knesset coordinator
Yossi Sarfaty – Local government coordinator
Iftach Brill – Media director
Tani Goldstein – PR