(Please) Keep Giving – Shuki Erlich

By Shuki Erlich, Chairmain of “Committed to Give” initiative for the promotion of philanthropy in Israel

In the days following the latest Israeli elections, we witnessed a troubling, repulsive and shocking call all over social media – “to stop giving”. This campaign called upon “those who have”, including donors and social investors, to halt their support of those living in Israel’s periphery because of their vote for right wing parties, and particularly for serving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It must be noted that this campaign followed another massive non-political campaign which took place prior to the elections and called upon all Israeli citizens to come out and vote “in order to have a say”.

I am a member of the “Committed to Give” initiative, a group of Israeli private donors working together to change the culture of private giving in Israel among the affluent Israelis. We believe that each person has the right to vote according to his/her conscience and beliefs, and those should not affect his/her status in society and his/her rights to welfare, health and education.
We believe in supporting the periphery and its residents who are underprivileged due to a system that gives a clear advantage to stronger individuals and authorities. The NGO organizations led by Committed to Give members address all those needs, and we are proud of their achievements and their contribution to building social cohesion among all sectors and communities in Israel.
Our drive to invest in Israel’s social and geographic periphery and its people stems from our strong conviction that from there we will grow our future scientists, Nobel Prize laureates, and public and business leaders, and even more importantly – our belief in our country’s human and social capital. Knowing that every child born in this country has the right to have at least some degree of hope. Believing that our country might be physically built, but still needs some social and civil reinforcements, and that a society is as strong as its parts – up to the weakest. These are the motivations of those people, donors who are philanthropists, to be part of the solution. And all this is light years away from any perception that politics, elections or any practice of this sort can produce.
Those who have chosen to engage in private giving are not the political leadership; however they do see themselves as part of the Israeli civil society’s leadership. The Israeli social sector is wide in its scope, resources, employees and influence, and it deserves a committed leadership that is neither political nor business-related. This leadership includes those who chose not only to return part of their personal capital to society, but also to engage in its development and invest time in creating solutions that would help strengthen our society and our country, and give hope to those who live here.
This is why any attempt, provocation or statement that places philanthropy in the world of left versus right is nothing more than ignorance, or sheer opportunism. Israeli and foreign private donors will continue to stand with Israel’s social and geographical periphery, and invest their time and energies in any effort that will help make this country a better place to live. The examples are plenty:
Shahaf Foundation supports about 180 young communities in 70 urban locations. The young communities are groups of young adults who are committed to the future of Israeli society and have chosen to settle permanently in towns and neighborhoods in Israel’s social and geographic periphery.
Otzarot HaGalil (“Treasures of the Galilee”) is a major innovative initiative aimed at promoting tourism in the Western Galilee and providing both a stage and support to small businesses in the area. In its vision, this philanthropic initiative hopes to provide an economic and social boost to the region.
Ir BeShinui (“City in Transition”) – run by Zionism 2000 and active in 11 towns and neighborhoods, this is a systematic program for local and community empowerment – an urban and/or neighborhood model created in collaboration with the public and private sectors to promote and improve the quality of life from a socio-economic and communal standpoint – by creating qualitative and diverse systems and services with and for the benefit of its community members.
Kav Mashve is a non-profit organization focused on promoting the integration of Arab graduates in Israel’s business market, and by that, promoting a more diverse, equal employment.
We will continue our work and call upon all of you who can – to join us and be part of our efforts and our giving, which brings us all closer to each other.