- To let our representatives know that they are being watched, and that this information will eventually affect them – in primary as well as national elections.
- To empower Israeli citizens, who for many years have lost any sense of personal political agency, and are starting to rediscover their power, as well as their responsibility.
- To strengthen the Knesset, and thus our democracy. Years of irresponsible parliamentary behavior has corroded the public's faith in the system. This poses an imminent danger to parliamentary democracy.
- To promote socially responsible legislation, which strikes a fair balance between financial, societal and ecological considerations.
Why we’re needed
Israeli citizens have discovered that regardless of political views, they all share a grim reality:
- Our democratic system is being corroded by different groups and interests, which use the Knesset as part of an overall campaign to curtail civic rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and so forth.
- The government is leading an ongoing campaign to curtail the powers of the legislative and judiciary branches
- Our government has systematically divested itself of many of its traditional responsibilities, such as health care, education and welfare. Many services have been privatized, and even those who support this policy find that it has been carried out in harmful ways. Education is on a steady decline, our spectacular public health care system is collapsing, welfare projects are severely under-funded.
- All of these issues seem to be unaccountable, since elections are national, and there is no direct mechanism which enables voters to keep in touch with their representatives.
HOW WE WORK
The Social Guard invites citizens to register in its website and receive a weekly newsletter, which describs the latest legislation and gives next week's committee schedule. People choose the discussion which interests them (some come once or twice, others have become weekly attendants). A special team obtains permits for these visitors, invitations are issued at our request by the committee chairpersons. Our research team then provides monitors with detailed information about the discussion they will attend.
Monitors are asked to write their personal commentary. Each one of them has a different perspective, each testimony thus presents a unique point of view. Moreover, we are able to follow dozens of discussions each week and gain a broad and complex perspective. Actually, no other civic group has the manpower to do this.
Some further facts
The Social Guard is a registered NGO since December 2011, and has raised initial funds, in Israel and abroad, to facilitate its work. We believe in transparency, thus our entire budget is available online (here)
Of course, our work has just begun.
Our activity is coordinated by a group of about forty activists, as well as a staff of six full- and part-time employees (with salaries on an equal scale based on the median income in Israel).