You have no doubt already read half a dozen reflections on this unprecedented year. A touch of hope to balance months of angst, hints of optimism to cancel out seemingly endless caregiving challenges and decision fatigue. To me, these reflections seem to follow a common thread:
The pandemic has caused untold suffering and created unprecedented challenges. And we are working to overcome them together.
To be fair, NIF’s story in all of this is not much different. Our grantees, whose work often depends on in-person organizing and close contact with marginalized communities, were suddenly faced with a fast-spreading virus that forced them to suspend business-as-usual.
The pandemic exposed deep vulnerabilities in society and exacerbated already existent fractures in Israel’s safety net, in its democratic institutions, and in its social fabric. The work of our activists and organizations to build a just and equal future for all Israelis became all the more urgent.
In light of this monumental challenge, how could anyone believe we could be successful in protecting Israel’s most vulnerable populations while holding the line on civil liberties, democracy, and our pursuit of equality for all?
The answer is so simple: It was all because of you.
You, the NIF supporter. The donor. The champion of Israel’s civil society. You, the reader, the sharer, the tweeter, the NIF Film Club regular. Each and every one of you played a role to help our grantees in Israel advance our vision of a better, more just Israel, built on the values we all share.
Needless to say, the work of our grantees on the ground in Israel has been heroic. They have risen to the occasion in truly remarkable ways. Under tremendous strain, Israelis from every background have worked to ensure that their work – to build a more just and equal future for everyone in Israel — can continue.
It is also true that their successes this year would not have been possible without you, our beloved community of supporters, who make all of our work possible.
As the scope of the pandemic and its likely impact in Israel became clear last spring, NIF responded by implementing our Crisis Action Plan, pivoting to allocate resources where they were needed most to address the virus’s impacts – to protect the most marginalized communities and ensure that Israel’s democracy and civil society stayed strong.
We were only able to do that because of supporters like you, whose generosity have helped us act with the necessary nimbleness that a crisis demands — this year and over the last 40.
I’m not suggesting we’re out of the woods. Nor that NIF has single-handedly defended Israel from COVID-19 or its democracy from authoritarian encroachment. Not at all. The story is far from over. But without you, those heroic civil society defenders of democracy and equality in Israel would stand alone in their fight. And the situation for Israel’s marginalized communities would be far more dire.
This year, you are what sets NIF’s story apart.
With Thanksgiving very much on my mind, even at a time when we may not be gathering with family as we hope to, I want to express my gratitude for your commitment and generosity this year to NIF and to our mission.
Of course, for many Americans, this holiday provides an opportunity for reflection about the myths we tell about our founding. I believe facing history bravely and honestly – whether our idea of the founding of the United States or of Israel – is essential to achieving the kind of democratic future we want to see. And at the same time, this season is also a time when we express our gratitude.
So, let me say, on behalf of our staff, board, and grantees, thank you. We are deeply grateful for your partnership and support.
I wish you the best for a happy and safe holiday.