The 2016 winners of the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism's "Spirit of Zionism" awards have been announced Tuesday, and will be honored in a special ceremony next month.
This year's honorees are:
- Sarah Haetzni-Cohen, chairwoman of the My Israel movement, a grassroots organization which actively spreads Zionist values on the internet and via social media.
My Israel was founded in 2010 by Jewish Home party head Naftali Bennett, who ran it together with (now Justice Minister) Ayelet Shaked before the duo entered party politics. Bennett no longer holds an official function in the NGO but his influence may still be present behind the scenes.
Under Haetzni-Cohen's leadership, the group has launched an intensive social media campaign, with a Twitter account now boasting tens of thousands of followers and information distributed in English, Hebrew, Russian, and Arabic. She has also spearheaded efforts to organize dozens of demonstrations against the BDS movement and the delegitimization of Israel. The movement now boasts a membership of over 150,000.
- Gilad "Gili" Cohen, chairman of the Fighters for Life organization, which encourages recently-discharged IDF soldiers taking the traditional trip around the world after their service to volunteer for humanitarian causes along the way. The goal: to show the real face of IDF soldiers amid a hostile media climate and rampant anti-Israel propaganda. Roughly 400,000 Israelis have visited third-world countries after their IDF service within the past decade alone.
Within two years, the organization has successfully utilized recent IDF veterans in Argentina, Ethiopia, and India. Before each "cycle" - a volunteer period of several months - the veterans must also complete volunteer service within Israel, working with at-risk youth. Afterwards, they teach English and math to children abroad. Together, the veterans have reached some 150 million people in two years.
"The Spirit of Zion is an award for new initiatives, young Israelis with vision who recognize the need to stand up and be counted," the Moskowitz Prize website notes. "These are people who dream, our next generation of dedicated, creative citizens who have what it takes to make a difference for the Zionist dream to continue as a vibrant reality today."
The prize is named for, and sponsored by, Dr. Irving and Cherna Moskowitz, as an expression of support for people who put Zionism into action in today’s Israeli society, acting for the benefit of the common good in order to ensure the strength and resilience of the national Jewish homeland. The Moskowitzes have championed Zionist causes worldwide, and have done much for the Jewish people in Israel and abroad.