The Story of Standing Together
The current socio-political reality in Israel is unbearable. The occupation feeds unceasing violence, fear and hatred between Israelis and Palestinians. Meanwhile, the gaps within society are growing incessantly: poverty is deepening, the distress of the peripheries is getting worse, the Palestinian national minority in Israel is discriminated against, and many other groups — including women, Mizrahim, immigrants from Ethiopia and the former USSR, the LGBTQ+ community, the elderly, and people with disabilities — are marginalized and lack the resources they need. Working people are being forced to work longer hours at unfair and stagnating wages, while the cost of living continues to soar ever higher.
At the same time, racism and incitement emanating from political leaders succeed in keeping all of these groups divided and in fear of one another. Instead of offering real solutions to our insecurity, we are promised a routine of war. Instead of serving the majority of citizens, our politicians are looking out only for the rich. The government is disconnected from the public and repeatedly exposed as corrupt. Israeli society is in a deep crisis.
We believe that despite this crisis and the difficult situation in which we find ourselves, there is room for hope. Many here want to live in a just, equal society. If we look around, we find countless expressions of this desire: workers’ unions, women’s movements, cooperative organizations, joint Arab-Jewish initiatives, local and national groups fighting against the occupation and for equality and justice for Jews and Palestinians, activists fighting against the oppression of Ethiopians, struggles for public housing and distributive justice for the periphery, organizing against the privatization of social services and natural resources, initiatives to protect the environment and so much more.
All of these examples inspire hope, prove that things can be different, and constitute strong foundations for political change. The problem, however, is that so long as all these initiatives are disconnected, their power remains inherently limited.
In order to bring about the foundational changes we seek in all areas of Israeli society, we need a movement that knows how to tie the ends together and gather the various struggles into an unstoppable force. The main driver of many of these struggles is professionalized NGOs, which, despite their important work, are unable to become a political home for hundreds of thousands of people. Meanwhile, our political parties, which are supposed to provide a central address for those who want to work for social change, are no longer able to mobilize a broad public and propel it into action.
In the vast space that exists between NGOs on the one hand, and parties on the other, masses of people are interested in progressive change: they support peace and oppose the occupation, they support equality and oppose racism, they support social justice and they oppose rule by wealth. What was needed, more than anything, was a movement to unite them, to inspire them to action and to turn them into a powerful political force.
Standing Together seeks to be this movement. It aims to build an alternative, shared home for all those who refuse to submit to a reality of hatred and alienation and instead choose empathy and solidarity. We seek not to erase our differences, but rather to create a true partnership based on our shared interests and vision for the future. This is the meaning of Standing Together.
We know that we can live in a society that is good for all of us. An equal and just society that treats every person with dignity, and has a place for everyone. A society that chooses a life of peace, justice and independence for Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs. A society in which we can all enjoy real security: with adequate housing, quality education, good healthcare, a decent salary, and the ability to age with dignity.
Such a society is possible; we’re already building it.
Our Theory of Change
Political and social change from within the foundations of Israeli society is possible, and it’s what we’re striving for. We know that this change is possible because the majority of people living here hold a legitimate interest in living in an egalitarian, just, and free society; a society supported by a government intrinsically different from the one we currently have, a government that does not serve to maintain an occupation of civil and social segregation or perpetuate wealth disparity nation-wide. Our current government has structured and organized Israeli society around social distress to guarantee prosperity, security and social and economic fulfillment for the small fraction of the society that is politically aligned with the status quo. The perpetuation of this societal structure hurts members of diverse communities the most, including our multicultural public. Indeed, these policies negatively impact the majority of Israeli civil society.
Are you an NGO? Or a political party?
We are neither! At Standing Together, we see two Leftist camps in Israeli society - Left-wing political parties and professional NGOs. Standing Together was founded to fill in the void between these two bases. While there remains a political Left in Israel, in the form of some political parties, they have lost the ability to mobilize and organize the public behind their causes. And while professional NGOs are doing important work, they are simply just that - professional. With no agenda of mobilizing the public, the regular layperson cannot truly join an NGO and be active in their efforts. Israeli society needed a political sphere where they could be active in their frustration - and they found that sphere in Standing Together, a grassroots political movement, rooted in inclusivity, pluralism, and activism.
What is the deal with the purple?
We wanted our movement to be recognizable. Worldwide, purple is known as the color of new Left-wing parties and movements, and we wanted to fall in line with the movements across the world that have inspired us. Purple is an unmarked color in Israeli politics, referencing a new and hopeful movement that can diverge from the last wave of Left politics and create a new political current. Last, but definitely not least, purple is the color of the Feminist movement. Every movement that seeks to create justice and create a more equal society must be connected to the biggest struggle of our time - the struggle for full equality for Women.
Where might I have seen Standing Together before?
If you’ve been at or witnessed a demonstration in the past 6 years, you’ve seen us. Whether we were in the crowd mobilizing the people, organizing the demonstration, or partnering with a coalition, we have been responsible for the biggest mobilizations and demonstrations that this country has seen in the last few years.
What does creating a future of “Peace, Equality, Social and Climate Justice” look like?
We believe that every struggle that we face in Israeli society is connected - you cannot separate the struggle for peace, from the struggle for equality, from the struggles for social and climate justice. If you are active in the fight for one of these rights in Israeli society, you are intrinsically connected to the fight for another one. Every person living in Israel, whether they be Arab-Palestinian or Jewish, male or female, living in the periphery or in a city center, is impacted by the government's failure to provide us with security, and a descent living in an equal, happy society.
The intersectionality of these struggles is undeniable - and when we fight for one, we fight for all. If we believe that we deserve to live in a society where peace exists, then we deserve a movement that presents a cohesive alternative to the right-wing in Israel which denies us this reality. That movement is