2021 has been another year of change and challenges in Israel: the pandemic, elections (again!), rocket attacks, violence in Israel’s mixed cities, and then the emergence of an unprecedented broad coalition government. We saw once again how conflict there can unleash hatred towards Jews here.
Having worked in various communal roles I share worries regarding the demonisation of Israel and disgusting anti-Jewish hatred on our streets and in our political parties. Having spent much time in Israel, I sympathise with those concerned about the safety of friends and family there.
Too often we engage with Israel and particularly the politics of Israel and the conflict from a place of fear and suspicion – including suspicion of those within our community with whom we disagree.
Yet there is so much to offer hope, and much common ground throughout our community.
Those I am now working with as part of the NIF UK community share a vision of a secure, democratic, equal, and just Israel. I believe the vast majority of British Jews seek the same path.
It is in the work of Israelis from every part of society striving for equality that we can find inspiration and hope. NIF UK’s annual Human Rights Awards do just that. This year NIF UK are celebrating an outstanding individual, Avi Dabush, and a remarkable organisation, Shatil.
Avi Dabush has dedicated his life to pursuing social justice. Currently director of Rabbis for Human Rights, Avi is a dynamic and passionate activist on social, political, and environmental issues. He is a prominent advocate for the needs of those in Israel’s peripheries and his work on the ground has significantly improved the lives of thousands of Israelis and Palestinians.
Shatil is the organisation enabling and empowering activists and organisations improving policy for minority groups, and fighting for better housing, health care, and services for people and parts of Israel that are often neglected.
In previous years we have recognised Women Against Violence, Yesh Din, Tebeka, Achoti, a coalition of organisations protecting and providing for asylum seekers and refugees in Israel, and many more transformative leaders and impactful organisations.
Represented throughout the people and projects we celebrate and support are those from across Israeli society: secular and religious, Arab and Jewish, Ashkenazi, Mizrachi, Sephardi, Ethiopian, and FSU Jews the LGBTQ community; and people from the South, Centre, and North.
For many people over many years support for Israel was about solidifying defences or raising buildings. For 25 years, people have joined New Israel Fund in the UK to defend democracy and build a more equal Israeli society.
Just as the best of Israel is when all can come together around shared values and common ground, I hope many, many more of our community can join NIF UK in supporting Israel through celebrating inspiring Israelis fighting for a fairer future for ALL who live there.
See more info here: https://newisraelfund.org.uk/hrad-2021/