Established almost three decades ago, The Movement for Quality Government in Israel (MQG) is a Jerusalem-based NGO committed to promoting the values of democracy, transparency, good governance and civic engagement in the Israeli society. Over the years, MQG has become one of Israel’s largest grassroots organizations, with more than 35,000 members and supporters from the general public. MQG has become a leading independent public watchdog organization enjoying unprecedented legal success.
As a movement for social and civic change, MQG believes in the need to adopt a grassroots approach and to involve citizens in order to provide a real platform for social and civic empowerment. In a society fractured by party, religious and ethnic differences, citizens from all walks of life and all elements of the political spectrum are attracted to MQG’s persistent pursuit of a better state for the citizens of Israel. MQG’s outstanding work and remarkable achievements in this field has resulted in MQG receiving massive media coverage and several awards, including the “Integrity Award” in Berlin from Transparency International (TI).
Selected examples for some of the recent activity and achievements
Suspension of mayors facing criminal charges: Despite facing severe criminal charges, three mayors (Those of Bat Yam, Natzrat Ilit and Ramat HaSharon) refused to suspend themselves – and stayed in office while facing charges like accepting bribes and other forms of corruption. The movement appealed to the high court, which led, at the end, to a new law legislated by the Knesset that prohibits those who face severe criminal charges to continue serving as mayors at the same time.
Cost of living: The food market in Israel is controlled by very few monopolies – more than half of the products in the market belong to eight brands only. This situation leads to a substantial rise in prices. The movement has been in touch with several members of the Knesset in order to solve this problem; The movement also seeks to dissolve the monopoly in the cement industry – that affects housing prices; We are also verifying the prices announced by the Ministry of Agriculture (prices that affect the actual prices in the market) – to make sure those prices are not inflated. Those are only a few examples of the many actions the movement is taking in order to tackle the complex issue of the high cost of living in Israel.
Transparency in legislation: Before reaching the Knesset, most of the bills are discussed in the ministers committee of legislation. Bills that are not approved by the committee have very little chance of passing and becoming law. However, this committee does not keep to protocols, and the information about the votes of the ministers is not available to the public. The movement has initiated a public campaign to call for full transparency in the work of the committee.
Making Vision a Reality – Selected Projects
As an active proponent for change created from the ground up, MQG champions a grassroots approach to its programs. Each of its signature projects empowers citizens to help bring about the desired change to their communities as follows:
The Legal Hotline and Clinics Project: The project functions as the direct channel to the Israeli public by receiving over 1,200 citizen reports a year, including reports of whistleblowers. Operated through a long-lasting collaboration with several academic institutes in Israel, such as the Hebrew University. This project provides tens of young law students each year with a unique opportunity for tremendous practical experience in implementing social vision through legal means.
The Civic Engagement Project: The project empowers civic society by providing it with a platform for civic participation, raises public awareness to matters of quality government and generates public discussion on these matters on a national scale by initiating and implementing various activities among those public campaigns, lectures, internet and social media activities, protests and rallies. Dozens of volunteers participate in this project each year.
The Budget Watch Project: The project monitors governmental budgets, protects public funds from misuse, investigates improper uses of public funds and petitions to retrieve misused funds when necessary. In its extensive and highly successful activities, this project has managed to retrieve millions of NIS to public funds that can promote social services, health, and education.
The Municipal Project: The project promotes active citizenship in Israel’s Arab society by providing key players and other citizens with vital knowledge and tools to act in their own local communities. Since the establishment of the project in the year 2005, over 1,000 Israeli-Arab citizens, including attorneys, elected representatives, teachers and youth have been successfully trained to act to bring about a real change in their local communities.