During a ceremony held at the Knesset on Tuesday, the Knesset Speakers` Quality of Life Prize for 2015 was awarded to three NGOs in recognition of their efforts to promote understanding and coexistence between Jews and Arabs, protect human rights and prevent violence within Israeli society.
The ceremony was held in the presence of Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, Religious Services Minister David Azoulay, MKs Aida Touma-Sliman, Orly Levi-Abekasis, Yakov Margi and Ilan Gilon, Knesset Director-General Ronen Plot and Knesset Secretary-General Yardena Meller-Horowitz.
The Prize was awarded to the following NGOs:
– Tsofen: An Arab-Jewish organization promoting the integration of Israel’s Arab citizens into its high-tech industry, through employment and the creation of high-tech centers in Arab towns. MK Touma-Sliman stated the reasons for giving the award to this organization: ”Tsofen is unique in its work model and goals. Through its unique human structure, which combines social involvement with relevant professional experience, it has created a new field of employment in Arab society. Integrating the Arab population in high-tech companies will pave the way for the integration of this population in society at large and will create a strong economic foundation which connects both societies.”
– Matzmichim, the Israeli Violence Reduction Organization, conducts hundreds of workshops, classroom interventions and trainings for teachers, students and educational staff across Israel. MK Levi-Abekasis stated the reasons for giving the award to this organization: ”Matzmichim works with children and teenagers from all segments of Israeli society – Jews and Arabs, teenagers from affluent communities and at-risk teens from the periphery, religious and secular.”
– Families of Murder Victims, an organization which assists the families of those who have died by murder or manslaughter. Another MK stated the reasons for giving the award to this organization: ”Members of the organization teamed up with many other volunteers in order to help each other deal with the tragedy they experienced and in order to prevent more murders and violence in society. The organization`s activity is completely voluntary and is conducted on many levels – distributing information to teenagers in order to prevent violence, raising public awareness to the issue and promoting legislation to reduce the level of violence.”
Edelstein told the representatives of the winning NGOs ”I view you, the recipients of the Prize, as the true leaders of society and the community. It`s safe to assume that not all those you have helped have the ability or the courage to recognize that you have made a change in their lives. We, with pleasure, serve as their mouthpiece and wish to thank you for the profound and fundamental change you are making. You have all shown responsibility towards those around you, thus expressing personal leadership which has contributed to the quality of life of many people.”
”You remind us that society is based on civil involvement, which is the basis for us being an exemplary society,” said the Knesset speaker.
Addressing the tense situation in Israel, Edelstein said ”most Knesset Members believe things can be different and that coexistence is possible.”
The Knesset Speaker`s Prize for Quality of Life was established in 1981 with donations from the Markowitz-Schreiber Foundation in France. Its goal is to encourage citizens of Israel whose activities and achievements related to the improvement of the quality of life in Israel warrant special recognition.
The prize is worth NIS 120,000 and will be divided between the three NGOs. The Prize`s Board of Trustees is headed by Speaker Edelstein and also includes Supreme Court President (retired) Dalia Dorner, three deputy Knesset Speakers, Knesset Secretary-General Meller-Horowitz, members of the academia, former MKs and representatives of the Markowitz-Schreiber family.
Deputy Knesset Secretary Nazzem Bader is in charge of all matters related to the Prize.