|Written by Ruby Ong|
18 February 2011
A Message from Daniel Sokatch
Working for social change is not easy. The stakes are high, the obstacles daunting, and the path uncertain. At NIF, motivated by our love for Israel, our Prophetic tradition, and our dedication to democracy, we feel an enormous sense of urgency these days. Over the past year, I have written in this column about the gathering threats to the democratic character of the State of Israel: the bills wending their way through the Knesset that would curb the very freedoms on which Israel was founded; the committees of inquiry that smack of McCarthyism; the rabbinic rulings that would define Judaism as a harsh and narrow faith unrecognizable to most of us. And we and our family of organizations are on the front lines, pushing back against the forces of intolerance.
Given these circumstances, we tend to focus on the challenges ahead, and rarely take the time to celebrate our victories. We also sometimes lose sight of the joy of the work. And that is a shame, because it is a joy to engage in social change work. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be involved in a cause like ours. The struggle to strengthen Israeli democracy at the very moment when Israel needs it most is the struggle that I believe NIF was born for.
And why shouldn’t being on the right side of history be fun, too? Emma Goldman once said, “If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution.” Last night in Tel Aviv, hundreds of NIF supporters gathered under the banner, “We Won’t Remain Silent, We Will Dance!” Israel’s hottest Jewish and Arab DJs spun discs, and NIFers danced and celebrated the work of Israel’s top young designers and graphic artists who NIF commissioned to produce a series of t-shirts depicting freedom of speech, opposition to racism and support of human rights. Last night in Tel Aviv, we danced. Today, we get back to work. As Billy Bragg once sang, “the revolution is just a t-shirt away.”