“The Nation Demands Social Justice” – For All

August 14, 2011

Event Poster for Beer-Sheva Rally that Reads, “The Negev Demands Social Justice”

I’m forgoing my perfectionist leanings because I want to tell you about the Israel protests tonight. I attended the Beer-Sheva rally, estimated at 35,000, and followed closely on Twitter and Facebook the progress of the protest in Haifa as well. (I consider Haifa and Beer-Sheva to be my Israeli hometowns.)

In Beer-Sheva, it was a warm, dry night. The atmosphere was that of a street festival, and babies and small children abounded, despite the late hour.

But something interesting was happening. Taking the focus off Tel Aviv changed the nature of the protests. In Haifa and Beer-Sheva, we saw a far greater inclusiveness in the protests than we had seen before, with gay pride flags flying high, signs for handicapped rights, and most of all, significant mike time given to Arab Israeli issues.

In Beer-Sheva, Hanan Alsana (חנאן אלסנע), a Bedouin woman, was one of the headline speakers and a highlight of the night to many.

Live Coverage from the Ground

I know many people are uncomfortable with Twitter, and that’s fine, so I’m bringing it to you. Here’s a live account of what people were saying as the protests happened.

— Keep reading for photos, videos, funny stories, and recommendations of what to read next. Most importantly, I look forward to hearing your thoughts — 

Favorite Israel Donation: Honoring the Memory of Fallen Soldiers

August 10, 2007

Younes

One of my favorite acts of philanthropy this year was from Younes and Soraya Nazarian who donated one year scholarships to students at the University of Haifa in honor of each soldier killed in the Second Lebanon War.

As the University of Haifa is known as “the University of the North,” it was the obvious and most appropriate destination for such a commemoration. Each of the 119 scholarship recipients will have the opportunity to be in touch with the family for whom their scholarship is named.

Younes and Soraya Nazarian were recognized by the University of Haifa with honorary doctorate degrees for their dedication and visionary leadership to Israel and Jewish causes, including major support for libraries and cultural institutions.

In an emotional ceremony with families of the fallen soldiers in attendance, Mr. Nazarian asked that each scholarship recipient take on the role of surrogate child by keeping in touch with the families and visiting them regularly.

The Nazarians, who are leaders in the Los Angles Persian Jewish community, also gave $7 million to the University of Haifa for reconstruction of its library, the second largest in Israel.

On the occasion of the scholarship launch, Mr. Nazarian stated:

“This memorial combines two issues that are very dear to my heart and that, in my opinion, are at the top of Israel’s priorities: IDF soldiers and officers on the one hand and education, especially higher education, on the other hand.”