The 30th Anniversary of The Wexner Foundation made me reflect a bit on my days since I was a member of Class 7 of the Israel Fellowship. We were asked to fill out “Wexeffects” as part of our registration, and “not to be afraid of bragging.” So, here are some thoughts:
Some years ago, I was asked: “What is your vision as the CEO of the New Israel Fund in Israel?” I said: “My vision is to empower the unheard voices so they can participate in the discussions where their fate and future is decided.”
Only later I realized that this vision is exactly what guided me as a journalist and a news editor in my 22-year career on the Israeli television Channel 1. It was much harder then (1977-1999) than it is today. When I was the editor and the anchorperson of the evening news, Channel 1 was the only television channel in Israel, and one had to recruit all the imagination and skills to create a free environment that would welcome new voices and create change. I believe I did my work successfully, and today I meet with current leaders who were exposed to the public for the first time on my show.
Later on at the New Israel Fund, finding the unheard voices and empowering them was my daily work. The entire social change and human rights community in Israel was supported and inspired by the New Israel Fund and I’m proud that for 12 years I could lead it (1998-2010).
Nowadays, as a consultant and a writer, I keep doing the same thing but in new ways. ‘Beyond the Mountains of Darkness’ is the name of a book I recently published (The Jerusalem Institute of Israel Studies, 2015) in which I give my Arab neighbors in Jerusalem an opportunity to present themselves to the rest of the world in the way they want. The immediate reaction to the book which I’ve heard from many people are: “After your book, these people will no longer be invisible. You have started a new discourse about co-living in Jerusalem.”
One thing I haven’t been able to do: I can’t get younger. The fact that I see my son (Jonathan Yaari, Class 24), who is also a brand new alum of the Wexner Israel Fellowship, becoming a leader in Israeli society is a source of hope and a strong sense of accomplishment.
Eliezer Yaari is a writer and an entrepreneur. He is the former CEO of the New Israel Fund in Israel (1998 – 2010). Prior to that Eliezer had a 22-year career at the Israeli Television Ch-1 where he served as a reporter, chief editor, head of programs and an anchorperson, (1977-1998). Previously, Eliezer was a combat pilot, instructor and a pilot in the aerobatic team in the IAF (1967-1977). Today Eliezer is a partner in various initiatives, such as give2gether (active chairman), JDOCU (photographer and writer), and he also writes for some major newspapers and radio stations in Hebrew and in English.
He published two fiction books: “Back to the Titanic” (Short stories, 1990) and “Crossings” (A novel 2005) . HIs book “Beyond the Mountains of Darkness” about the life of the Palestinians in Jerusalem just came out. You can learn more at www.eliezeryaari.com and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.