At last, here it is! Rebecca Vilkomerson of Jewish Voices for Peace earned the highest score in our Mondo Awards contest for her piece on Adalah-NY namimg them the leading inspiration of the previous year; and our eminent judges, Susan Abulhawa, Omar Barghouti, Helena Cobban, Joseph Dana, and annie (along with the two of us) gave it our highest #s. Rebecca and Rawan Yaghi who earned the highest score in our Mondo Award Gaza Series, are our Top winners in the 2010 Mondo Awards. We are honored to present this winning entry.Vilkomerson is due for a bunch of books and a gift certificate for even more, but maybe the top prize this year will be a healthy donation to JVP, which is having its national member meeting this coming weekend… –Adam Horowitz and Phil Weiss.
This contest helps us remember how intertwined we all are, all the many pieces and members of the movement that are moving all the time–in Palestine, in Israel, in the U.S., in the rest of the world, and how we are all building it together. And just how much amazing work is being done by so many amazing people!
I am in Israel right now, so I am tempted to write about Adnan Gheith, a Palestinian activist in Silwan who was expelled the other day from Jerusalem, his home. Or about Yonatan Pollack, one of the stalwarts of the Israeli left (the real left, that is), whose trial I attended in Tel Aviv, which ended in his sentencing to three months in jail. Or Abdallah Abu Rahme, or “Gaza Mom” Laila El-Haddad, whose writing I love, or, or, or….the possibilities are multitudes.
But I do my work now in the U.S. And so I want to nominate a U.S. group: Adalah-NY.
Adalah-NY had a major victory this year, after three years of dogged work against the settlement builder and settlement NGO funder Lev Leviev, when one of Leviev’s companies, Africa Israel, announced it was suspending construction projects in the West Bank. Like the settlement “freeze,” it’s a partial, probably temporary, tactical retreat, but nevertheless a meaningful milestone. Adalah-NY has effectively hounded Leviev from all sides since 2007—from caroling at his diamond store, to pressuring celebrities not to let their names be associated with his many dirty practices, to forcing his CEO to resign from the board of CARE, to getting (again–as part of a team, which again makes it a perfect example of how all the pieces have to fit together, across continents) the Norwegian Pension Fund to divest from Leviev holdings.
It’s an impressive victory, but that isn’t really why I wanted to nominate Adalah-NY.
There are so many reasons why I do: because they are creative, they are smart, and they are strategic. Because they are unbelievably generous in sharing their accumulated wisdom with the rest of us, because they are excellent allies, and because they have absolutely no ego–it’s about justice for Palestinians, full stop. Because they have total respect for Palestinian leadership of the movement but total independence in how they run their campaigns. Because not only is their work on the basis of the most fundamental principles, but they do their work in principled ways. Because as individuals, the members of Adalah-NY are some of the smartest people I know, and because they represent a true rainbow of New Yorkers, including Palestinian Americans, Jewish Americans, and those who are neither but who care very much–to the point of letting the rest of their lives suffer–anyway. Because they spend no time on money or infrastructure, and all their impressive accomplishments to date are from what they manage to do in their free time! And finally, because they are relatively quiet about everything they manage to do, and so very much deserve the recognition.
Rebecca Vilkomerson is Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace