The New Israel Fund (NIF) announced today that it will grant its premier prize, The Gallanter Prize, to two activists — Fida Shehada, councilwoman in the Israeli city of Lod and groundbreaking progressive political leader; and Mikhael Manekin, founder of Alliance for Israel’s Future, an organization dedicated to creating a political network between Arabs and Jews in Israel. The Gallanter Prize is awarded annually to an outstanding Israeli activist who has made significant contributions to the field of social justice in Israel. The prize is named for and sponsored by two esteemed leaders of NIF and the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish community, Linda and Sanford (Sandy) Gallanter. Each years’ winner receives a cash award in support of their work and are invited to address NIF’s “Guardian of Democracy” national gala. This year, the gala will be held virtually on Sunday October 24 at 7PM Eastern.
NIF is awarding each activist a $15K in recognition of their work bringing Palestinian and Jewish Israelis together to build progressive power. “These are two individuals who have dedicated themselves to what might be the toughest, but also the most rewarding, work happening today in Israel: bringing Arabs and Jews together to make social change, to be actively involved in the process of making the places that they live more just and more equal,” said Orli Bein, NIF Senior Director for the San Francisco Region. “Theirs is work NIF is made for, and is so proud to support.”
Fida Shehada is a councilwoman in the city of Lod, where she grew up. Fida is leading Palestinian citizens in Lod to overcome the structural barriers they face — ones their Jewish neighbors do not. Last May, Lod was the epicenter of violence between Arab and Jewish citizens. Now, Fida is working to bring various government ministries to Lod for tours, developing an employment forum to deal with the high rate of unemployment in the city, and helping address violence and crime in the city.
“Real change comes from stakeholders and through grassroots actions,” Fida told NIF. “Real change involves the participation of everyone: women, workers, students, stay-at-home parents, and academics—regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, or age.”
Mikhael Manekin, who shares this year’s honor with Fida, currently co-directs the Shutafut Fellowship, a project of Alliance for Israel’s Future, which works to rebuild the Israel left from the ground up through intensive leadership training, the fellowship builds cohorts of up-and-coming progressive political leaders focused on promoting civic equality.
Mikhael told NIF that “By facilitating an intimate working environment based on trust, mutual respect, and shared values, we create much needed synergy regarding ideas, policy, and messaging to move towards a forward thinking inclusive, democratic Israel.”
The New Israel Fund is the leading organization advancing and defending democracy and equality for all Israelis. Widely credited with building progressive Israeli civil society, NIF supports a wide range of Israeli nonprofits and has provided over $300 million to progressive civil society organizations since its inception in 1979.