The New Israel Fund (NIF) announced today that it will grant the “Guardian of Democracy” Gallanter Prize to Efrat Yerday, the chair of Israel’s Association for Ethiopian Jews and a talented, transformational leader of the progressive movement in Israel. Efrat will be speaking via video at NIF’s virtual gala on September 13th, 2020.
According to NIF, Efrat is receiving this cash prize in recognition of her profound moral vision which is both deeply rooted in her own community and based in the universal principles of freedom, dignity, and human rights for all. In particular, the prize will recognize her contributions fighting institutional racism, combating police violence, and demanding better representation for people of color in Israel’s public sphere.
In an interview with NIF, Efrat said “I see the Ethiopian community’s fight against police brutality and racism as an opportunity — if we can address them in one case, we can address them in all, and help prevent violence from trickling into the rest of Israeli society. I am proud to receive this prize from the New Israel Fund, which seeks justice for Ethiopian Israelis as it does for every member of Israeli society.”
Efrat is a writer as well as an activist. Over the years, she has not only spoken out on behalf of the Ethiopian Israeli community, but she has set up new spaces for discussing Ethiopian Israeli identity and history — blogs, academic courses, and even a publishing house called “Ra’av” (“hunger”), which aims to add writers of color to Israeli bookshelves.
Past winners of the Gallanter Prize include Maisam Jaljuli, a women’s rights and labor activist Dr. Mushira Aboo Dia, the chairwoman of Physicians for Human Rights Israel, Mutasim Ali, a central leader of the African asylum seeker community in Israel, and Einat Hurvitz, the Israel Religious Action Center’s former director of legal and public policy.
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.
The Gallanter Prize is awarded annually to an outstanding Israeli activist who has made significant contributions to the field of social justice in Israel. Each years’ winner receives a cash award in support of their work and are invited to address NIF’s Guardian of Democracy Dinner.