Jerusalem: Today, the New Israel Fund (NIF) named Mickey Gitzin as its new executive director in Israel. Gitzin will replace Rachel Liel, who steps down after eight years as the executive director of NIF in Israel. Liel will stay on as a member of NIF’s board.
Gitzin is the founding executive director of Be Free Israel, one of the leading organizations in Israel in the struggle for religious freedom. He serves as a member of Tel Aviv-Jaffa’s City Council where he advanced projects that promote a shared society, religious pluralism, LBGT rights and economic and business development.
Daniel Sokatch, CEO of NIF, said, “I am thrilled today as we announce Mickey Gitzin as our new Executive Director of NIF in Israel. Mickey is an experienced, passionate, and energetic leader who has dedicated his life and his career to the things NIF stands for — democracy, equality, pluralism, inclusion — those values that are at the heart of what is truly pro-Israel. Mickey has strong connections with the Jewish communities in the U.S. and U.K. that go back to his post army days as a shaliach in South Bend, Indiana and as a graduate student in London. ”
“But Beyond all this, Mickey is a mensch,” said Sokatch. “He’s a smart, kind and lovely person, an inspiring and inspirational young leader who, I am certain, will help lead NIF in Israel from strength to strength. And he is that rare person who is ready from day one to take the baton of leadership that Rachel is passing to him, and to work with all of us to build a better Israel.”
Previously, Gitzin worked with Member of Knesset Ilan Gilon of Meretz. He also served as deputy executive director of the organization Festival for a Shekel, which fostered culture and art in Israel’s periphery. Gitzin is deeply acquainted with the Jewish community in the United States where he served as an envoy (shaliach) of the Jewish Agency. He earned his Master of Public Administration degree from University College London where he was awarded the Chevening Scholarship from the British Foreign Office. He received a Bachelor’s degree in international and Middle Eastern relations from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Gitzin is a past recipient of two prestigious awards from the New Israel Fund abroad: the NIF British human rights award and the NIF United States Defender of Democracy award.
“I’m incredibly excited to join the New Israel Fund as executive director of NIF in Israel,” said Gitzin. “NIF is at the heart of the efforts to realize the vision of Israel’s declaration of independence: that all will live here in peace, equality, freedom and justice. Israel’s most beautiful and powerful asset is its social diversity, and to see it, one need look no further than NIF’s grantees: Jews and Palestinians, secular and religious, Mizrahi and Ashkenazi, from the center of the country to its periphery. Being the son of immigrants from the former Soviet Union myself, I am so grateful to NIF’s leadership on these issues over the years. Today I am thrilled and grateful to NIF’s leaders in Israel and abroad for entrusting me with the opportunity to take part in its uncompromising work toward a better Israel.”
NIF President Talia Sasson said: “We are in the midst of a challenging period in which Israeli democracy faces constant threat and I am convinced that at this point a man like Mickey Gitzin is the right man to lead this struggle in the name of Israeli society and democracy. I want to thank Rachel Liel for eight years full of challenges and achievements.”
During Liel’s term, the NIF became the central institution acting for democracy, equality and human rights in Israel. It supports dozens of organizations while struggling for marginalized groups in the name of Israeli democracy. Liel served during a stormy period in which organizations and politicians began to try to delegitimize the New Israel Fund and the organizations it supports. NIF has grown and prospered during Rachel’s term and has become the leader in the struggle over Israel’s image as a democratic and Jewish nation.
“Rachel steered the New Israel Fund ship in stormy waters during an ongoing threat against the rule of law, equality before the law and Israeli democratic norms,” said Sasson. “When these dark clouds threaten the civil society and are sometimes accompanied by violence and racism, the social and public roles of the New Israel Fund have a greater weight. Thus, during this period and despite what is described here, NIF organizations still reported successes on several fronts like advancing equal rights for women, the protection of LGBT rights, the advancement of the struggle in the name of recognition and equal rights for Mizrachi culture and many others. I thank Rachel for the exhausting years of her service, for her steadfast and moral stance in light of the difficulties and challenges that the NIF faced. I want to thank Mickey Gitzin for agreeing to take the wheel, and we hand it to him wholeheartedly. We are in the midst of a struggle over Israeli society and I am convinced that together with the NIF management, its supporters and donors, its work from both sides of the Atlantic is conducted in the best way in the name of advancing our goal that we believe in.”
Rachel Liel, outgoing executive director of NIF in Israel, said: “I am completing a difficult and challenging term but am full of satisfaction. I worked with wonderful people who always have the betterment of the country and Israeli society on their minds; they work day and night in order to maintain its character in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence of its founders. Israel is a wonderful country and I am honored to have gotten to know the country at all its different levels and its various sectors. I want to thank Adv. Talia Sasson, president of the New Israel Fund and my colleague Daniel Sokatch, New Israel Fund CEO in the United States. I wish Mickey Gitzin great success in this new role. This is in my mind a wonderful choice deserving praise.”
For interviews and additional information, please contact Sharon Goldtzvik: 202.500.6362 (USA/WhatsApp) / 052.7315127 (Israel) / [email protected].