Friday, January 31, 2014

This is a Special Achievement Hasby Award, given outside the normal nominations process, since I didn't have a category for this - and I should have.

The Special Achievement Hasby Award for grassroots activism goes to....



I've mentioned Sussex Friends of Israel before. They are a group of people who, on their own, decided to counter-protest the haters who were intimidating a shop in Brighton that was selling SodaStream every Saturday.

The greatness of SFI isn't that they are counter-protesting. Their brilliance is in how they do it. 

Every week, they come up with a different gimmick - handing out cookies or cake to passersby. They mercilessly videotape and try to interview the haters, exposing their ignorance and how little they really care about Palestinian Arabs. The contrast between the laughing, happy Zionists and the angry, clueless BDSers shows every passerby who is right. Indeed, it looks like a party every week where the pro-Israel crowd gets together to have a good time - and exposing the haters is just one of the fun activities. They have effectively nullified and turned the tables on the anti-Israel protesters.

SFI also went to protest the obscene "wall" at St. James church earlier this month.

Moreover, on their Facebook page you can see that they generate a huge number of pro-Israel posters, often with a great sense of humor.

As far as I can tell, this is a completely grassroots effort. There is no help from the organized British Jewish or Zionist community, and one gets the impression that the lack of an organized response is what helped create SFI. 

There have been other examples of Zionists deciding to create their own grassroots organizations - Calgary United With Israel is worth mentioning - but as far as I can tell, no one else has the creativity, energy and effectiveness of Sussex Friends of Israel. Their model should be replicated around the world. 

This will be the last Hasby for the year; the other categories were simply not compelling enough for me to give out awards. I will create a post to wrap up all the winners on Sunday.



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