Economic and Social Empowerment through Community Organizing in Israel

Date: February 11, 2015

Lawrence Mishel and the Economic Policy Institute invite you to a discussion featuring Rami Hod, Yossi Levin and Michel Zernovitsky from the Social Economic Academy in Israel.

Wednesday, February, 11, 2015

12:00 – 1:30 p.m.

Economic Policy Institute

1333 H St. NW

Washington, DC 20005


The Social Economic Academy (SEA) was formed in the past decade as an organization for training social justice activists within Israel. Its activists helped create “Koach La’ovdim” (“Power to the Workers”), a new labor union that has organized 25,000 new workers since 2007, mostly in low-wage occupations, with nearly one-third of the members being Palestinians. Both SEA and the union are committed to building a labor movement that is democratic, based on rank and file activism, and committed to the principles of solidarity and equality between Jews and Palestinians.

This year, SEA is focused on an initiative to increase the ranks of organizers and union leaders among Palestinian citizens of Israel. The goal is both to help these activists increase organizing in their own communities and workplaces, and to help create a leadership corps within Koach La’ovdim that is more equally balanced between Jewish and Palestinian workers.

You are welcome to bring your lunch and eat during the discussion.


About the Social Economic Academy

What does SEA do?
The Social Economic Academy (SEA) is a cadre of professional and dedicated community activists whose purpose is to teach, practice and lead social change in Israel. SEA is a non-profit organization, dedicated to education, training and development of local activism in Israel.  SEA endows its students with vital knowledge on pressing social and economic issues and trends, using educational processes to foster growth of grassroots community organizations dedicated to social change.
Grassroots organizing techniques are at the core of what SEA does. it is at its base a community of people who come together to learn, enact highly localized social change and connect groups across the nation. A human catalyst for change with a proven track record and national scope.

How does SEA work?
SEA programs are based on a unique combination of in-depth learning and empowering groups from every sector of Israeli society. Through education and training given by leading academics and community organizers, the SEA works to disseminate expert knowledge on social policy and social involvement to a wide array of groups from diverse backgrounds, granting them the tools they need to take a proactive action as citizens dedicated to social justice. “By creating a network of grassroots community activists across the country, we are building the civic infrastructure for Israel’s social justice movement.” (Rami Hod, SEA Director).

This is SEA work in the Arab sector, specifically Nazareth and Um El Fahem.


Rami Hod
Holds a BA from Haifa University’s program for Social-Economic History and Sociology, and an MA in Sociology from Ben Gurion University in the Negev, with his research focusing on education policy in Israel. Prior to joining SEA, Rami worked for five years at Koach LaOvdim -a democratic Workers’ Organization which represents about 20,000 workers from a variety of fields. Rami was the organization’s first paid employee with its establishment, serving a pivotal role in developing its professional and organizational structure, as well supervising budding organizations. In the past he coordinated a scholarship program at Haifa University for Jewish and Arab students involved in community organizing and social change in impoverished communities. Rami is a  lecturer and a regular commentator and publicist in Israel’s newspapers and journals on topics of social policy, inequality and social change.

Yossi Levin
Holds a MA in Middle East Studies from Ben Gurion University and the American University in Cairo, in the past a human rights fellow with the UN, Geneva, Switzerland. Has a rich background in organizing and community mobilization in Israel and the US, with a long record of establishing diverse operations. Yossi founded and manages a social-community business venture in Haifa which focuses on community empowerment of the city’s Arab residents from Wadi Nisnas through the development of local industry (Nisnas Industries) and its promotion abroad.

Michal Zernowitski
During the last municipal elections (2013) I established a political ticket comprised only of ultra-Orthodox women from the city of Elad. For the first time in Israel, women vied for a seat on a city council of an ultra-Orthodox community. After the elections, a few women talk about how to continue to work together, and we decided to begin a learning process focusing on social issues at the municipal level in an attempt to lead a change in our city. We soon opened a course and workshop program with SEA, in which men and women from different parts of the city can come and learn. The learning experience and the interaction with experienced public activist and community organizers helped us consolidate our group identity, decide what issues we hope to tackle and find inspiration in numerous successes stories.