Maajid Nawaaz awarded “Beacon of Light Award” for standing up to antisemitism
Thousands of Brits tuned in to the first-ever virtual Gala in aid of StandWithUs UK.
On November 23, StandWithUs UK hosted their first virtual annual gala, garnering thousands of viewers. The event showcased the accomplishments of the Israel education organization which works with students and communities to support Israel and combat antisemitism and Israel hatred.
Michael Dickson, Executive Director of StandWithUs Israel
The prestigious "Beacon of Light" award was presented to LBC radio host Maajid Nawaz, founding chairman of Quilliam, a counter-extremism think tank that seeks to challenge the narratives of Islamist extremists by SWU Israel Executive Director Michael Dickson who also hosted the show. In a wide-ranging interview with Dickson, Maajid Nawaaz recalled his journey from radical terrorist-sympathiser to anti-extremist campaigner and spoke of how he gained a better perception of Israel by visiting there as part of a parliamentary visit. “I learned on that visit just how one-sided my view had been – I saw mosques on the beaches of Tel Aviv with the ‘Azan’ (call to prayer) playing on loudspeakers – that’s more than you have in Britain!”. He hailed the recent peace agreements between Israel, the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan and congratulated StandWithUs student leaders, including Muslim pro-Israel students and said, referencing the move towards peace, “get ahead of that curve and be the ambassadors for peace, ambassadors of the future”.
Michael Dickson, Executive Director of StandWithUs Israel, presents award to Maajid Nawaz
Past StandWithUs UK honorees have included Maureen Lipman DBE, Joy Wolfe MBE, Col. Richard Kemp, Lord Turnberg and, in 2018, Rabbi Lord Sacks, to whom a powerful tribute was paid. StandWithUs UK Chair, Loretta Cash introduced footage of Rabbi Lord Sacks, calling him “a beacon of light for all faiths”. In the video, filmed earlier this year, Rabbi Lord Sacks called StandWithUs “one of the great Jewish organisations of our time”. He went on to give a powerful address on the centrality of Israel to Jews and, addressing StandWithUs student leaders, he said “you are all Israel’s ambassadors – and the work you have to do it vital. I salute you, I congratulate you – may you succeed in changing minds and opening hearts.”
The event included powerful testimonials from both Jewish and non-Jewish students who have been supported by StandWithUs to counter antisemitism and to educate others about Israel. A dramatization showed how educational programming by StandWithUs UK in 6th Forms and in university can help ‘inoculate’ young people against misleading propaganda.
Loretta Cash, Chair, StandWithUs Uk
StandWithUs UK Executive Director, Sara Sherrard, made a compelling appeal for support of the organisation. She began in this position earlier this year, and shared her experience of formerly attending the annual StandWithUs UK Gala and donating, to now running the non-profit and seeing how much it is achieving.
Sara Sherrard, Executive Director of StandWithUs UK
In addition to student praise for the charity, a strong endorsement was given by Simon Appleman, deputy headteacher of JFS explaining the importance of the StandWithUs 6th form programmes to prepare students before they get to university.
Roz Rothstein, Co-Founder and CEO of StandWithUs
It was clear soon after broadcast that the Gala was a success. “We were overwhelmed with positive feedback from supporters telling us how inspired they were about our vital work”, said Sherrard. “100% of donations made as part of this virtual gala are going straight to the cause, and actually doubled by a kind anonymous donor. We are proud that we were able to use this opportunity to raise awareness of the necessity, the work and the effectiveness of StandWithUs UK, in a program created entirely in-house without the need for overhead costs. The StandWithUs team was able to powerfully and purposefully deliver a slick, professional and engaging 50 minutes of fast-paced content about the work of StandWithUs UK highlighting the work of the past 8 months that transitioned online since the onset of the pandemic.”
Watch the gala HERE.
StandWithUs (SWU) is an international, non-profit and non-partisan Israel education organization that works to inspire and educate people of all ages about Israel, as well as challenge misinformation and fight against antisemitism.
Through university fellowships, high school internships, middle school curricula, conferences, materials, social media, educational films and missions to Israel, StandWithUs supports people around the world who want to educate their schools and communities about Israel.
Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Los Angeles, the organization has chapters and programs on 5 continents, including the U.S., Israel, UK, Canada, South Africa and Brazil.
For the last 7 years, SWU has consistently received the highest possible ratings from Charity Navigator (4 stars) and Guidestar (Platinum).
www.standwithus.com and www. facebook.com/standwithus and www.twitter.com/standwithus