Father Gabriel Nadaf.
At the intimate rooftop of HonestReporting headquarters in Jerusalem, the who’s who of Israeli social media were on hand for the 5th annual Hasby Awards on Sunday evening.
The awards, created originally as a joke by pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon, point to the best bloggers, tweeters, and Israel activists – becoming the banner event for those in the pro-Israel blogosphere.
“I created the Hasby Awards in 2010 as a lighthearted means to highlight the best specific examples of hasbara for the year,” Elder told The Jerusalem Post. “It soon became clear that many nominees and recipients took this award much more seriously and the interest only proved that the Hasbys fill a need in the pro-Israel community.”
The ceremony began with a quick introduction by HonestReporting CEO Joe Hyams, who fondly recalled the first time he and Elder met while touching on the intentions of his organization, which fights for Israel’s honest representation in the media.
“Drive change and make a difference,” Hyams said, setting the tone for the rest of the evening.
First to receive an award was terrorist attack survivor Kay Wilson, who narrowly survived a stabbing by two young Arab men in December 2010. She was presented with the award for Best Article for her piece “The Rage Less Traveled.”
“We all go through bad things,” Wilson said in her acceptance speech. “The other side is so full of pathos and it speaks to people. If we can grab something that speaks to our own humanity and inject it into what we do, I think we can make for a better world.”
Other award recipients included Varda Meyers Epstein for Best Social Media Advocate and Evelyn Gordon for Best Pro-Israel Commentator.
Gordon, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post, explained that she blogs for the supporter whose gut-feeling tells him to root for Israel.
“People may not have the facts to justify why,” she said.
“People who don’t follow Israel news obsessively don’t necessarily know the facts that make it obvious.”
Also in attendance was number three most influential blogger on “Jewish Twitter” Avi Mayer, who presented the award for Best Tweeter to longtime friend Arsen Ostrovsky. Mayer himself was a previous recipient.
“Israel is not just about the conflict,” Ostrovsky said in response to his win. “Israel is so much more. We can all do a lot to not just work together, but expose the truth and show people the Israel we love.”
Recent events, including the death of 13-year-old Hallel Ariel and passing of renown humanitarian Elie Wiesel, fueled the energy of the awards and showcased the passion present in the world of pro-Israel advocacy.
“This is what we’re trying to do,” said Elder.
“We’re not just trying to celebrate the people that do the work, but give the true story of Israel and what’s going on over here. This year, for the first time, we were able to move the Hasby Awards from cyberspace to the real world, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Since he began blogging in 2004, Elder of Ziyon has written over 23,000 articles in an attempt to provide accurate, original news about Israel and its place in the Middle East.
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