The biggest individual prize in Israeli civil society is awarded by the New Israel Fund
- The William S. Goldman Truth to Power Award worth NIS 100,000, under the auspices of the New Israel Fund, is being given to Nasser Nawaj’ah, a researcher for B’Tselem and internationally recognized human rights activist.
- The Truth to Power Award is being given for the first time and is the biggest financial prize in Israeli civil society.
- The Award Committee announced the reasons for its choice: “Nasser Nawaj’ah is an example and model of an individual who speaks and acts truth to power while demonstrating extraordinary courage and determination; Naser was born and lived under military occupation, and despite the danger he works, taking a personal risk, against the worst injustices – in non-violent ways. With modesty and humility Nawaj’ah has become the leader of a community fighting for its most basic rights. At a time when millions of Israelis are demanding democracy, it must be remembered that “there is no democracy with occupation.”
- The Award is named for the late Bill Goldman who was a Professor of History at the University of San Francisco, an activist and board member of the New Israel Fund, who saw in the expression “To speak truth to power,” as a mission for Tikkun Olam.
New Israel Fund and the Goldman family have this evening (Monday) given the Truth to Power Award to Nasser Najaw’ah, a researcher for B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories and internationally recognized human rights activist. The NIS 100,000 Truth to Power Award is being granted for the first year and is the biggest individual prize awarded in Israeli civil society. The prize is awarded to public activists working fearlessly against powerful systems, and struggling against discrimination, inequality or injustice, and who have paid a social, public or personal price for it. The criteria according to which the candidates were evaluated are courage, effectiveness, promise for the future, inspiration and a deep commitment to the values of justice, equality and democracy.
The Award Committee examined more than a hundred activists whose names were submitted and who dedicate their lives to various areas of human rights, the struggle against the judicial coup, for social justice and protecting democracy. The Award Committee chose Nawaj’ah for “Major courage, extraordinary determination and long-term activism in the reality of occupation. Against these grave injustices, Nasr stands firm and works in non-violent ways for basic human rights for all Palestinians living in the West Bank and in particular in Area C. Nasser has become a focal point for pilgrimages and meets Israeli activists, senior Israeli and international public figures, and speaks about the harsh reality of his life and the lives of millions of Palestinians under occupation and settler violence. With great bravery, he gets up every day to document and report the reality and tell us about the injustices that are being done in our name, while putting himself at risk, for the sake of truth and out of faith in human morality fighting for justice and equality. Without him and without people like him, we would not know what the reality is that is taking place in Israel’s backyard, and we would not be able to demand its correction. Precisely at a time when millions of Israeli men and women are demanding democracy, it must be remembered that there is no democracy with occupation.”
Nasser Najaw’ah (41) is married with four children. He was born in Susya from where his family was expelled and where the State of Israel has set up an archeological site on the location of his former home. Since then, Nasser and the other residents of Susya have lived on the farming land that they own, but are forced to fight again and again for their right to live on their land – in the face of repeated demolitions, demolition orders and blocking of building plans, violence from the security forces, military training in the village areas, denial of access to water and clogging of wells, and right-wing organizations working for their expulsion. All this while confronted by settler violence on a daily basis.
In this impossible reality, Najaw’ah stands firm and dedicates his life to the struggle against the occupation in non-violent ways. He documents, writes and lectures about life under the occupation and in addition works to promote a policy that will put an end to it. Nasser was prevented from attending the ceremony held in his honor, but in a video shown at the event, he thanked the New Israel Fund for the award and said: “The only thing that is certain is that one day the occupation will end and everyone who works for justice will win.”
The “Truth to Power” award is named after the late Bill Goldman, who was Professor of history at the University of San Francisco, an activist and board member of the New Israel Fund, who courageously worked to promote compassion, justice and equality and contributed so much to organizations that worked to build bridges between people.