07 December 2010
The Fire This Time
As soon as we in the U.S. heard about the terrible fire in the Carmel, we knew our Israeli colleagues would be working with the affected communities, engaging with the authorities and thinking long-term about both the problems and solutions presented by the emergency. Our Haifa office, which served such a key role during and after the second Lebanon War, has particularly deep and extensive partnerships in the community, and it is our on-the-ground presence, our credibility and communication with the many grassroots organizations we support that continues to make a difference.
Unlike many American Jewish organizations, we did not email you immediately to ask for special support. We do have a Fire Response Fund, and it will be disbursed in a thoughtful way, ensuring that compensation is distributed fairly, that knowledgeable environmentalists participate in repairing the Carmel forest, and that our grantees and partners play the appropriate roles in representing their communities in the aftermath. And we are especially grateful to our friends at American Jewish World Service and J Street, who did contact their constituents to ask that fire-related contributions be directed to us, with great success.
But if you are a supporter of the New Israel Fund, you know that our ongoing work is the most important way to address Israel’s emergencies. Because we build the institutions, the organizations and the networks through which ordinary people make Israel a better place, a place that addresses the needs and aspirations of all its citizens. Because our role is that of a powerful engine for democratic change, the nexus where policy and progressive values come together with a vision originated by Israel’s founders. Because that vision is substantiated by thousands of Israelis and Jews around the world who work together in common purpose.
Please, as 2010 comes to an end, enable us to continue and strengthen our ability to make change happen. You have heard about the challenges facing Israeli democracy and civil society, that the human rights community has never been more vilified, and that the freedoms that are the foundation of a liberal democracy are fragile there. And while this is true, and while we expect to become even stronger advocates for our values and programs, we also know that Israel is a miraculous place, a place that can regenerate just as the Carmel forest eventually will. It is in Israel’s DNA to engender miracles, and with that thought, we wish you a happy Hanukah and thanks for your friendship and support.