U.S. Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones today visited NIF and SHATIL's offices in Jerusalem to learn firsthand about the organization's endeavors for social change. "This is an important idea you have," he said after being briefed about NIF's activities in Israel.
After SHATIL Executive Director Rachel Liel explained that SHATIL is Hebrew for seed, Ambassador Jones replied "you are serving as a nursery, nurturing new organizations. My grandfather was a nurseryman so I know how vital new seeds are."
NIF Israel Executive Director Eliezer Yaari told the Ambassador that NIF was about assisting unheard voices, while Liel stressed that the organization put new ideas on the public agenda.
"I think there is a crying need for such assistance," interjected Ambassador Jones after being told that more than 33 percent of NIF's budget and 40 percent of SHATIL's budget is allocated for assistance to Israel's Arab minority.
The Ambassador heard a report from three of the five SHATIL staff who spent a month on a study tour of the U.S. in September 2005 with funding from the State Department – Shlomo Berihun, Director of the Ethiopian Project; Milana Yaari, Director of the Youth-At-Risk Project and Enass Masri, coordinator of Youth and Students in the Negev.
After hearing from them, the Ambassador commented: "You are role models to youth today in Israel. I never have the opportunity to meet the people we send to the U.S. and it heartens me to hear what you've had to say."