We planned our 4th annual leadership forum in Mitzpe Ramon for more than a year. The idea was to spend two days with the best leaders around the country and have fun together at night with food, music in the wild nature.
Firstly, I wanted to adjust SFL’s tradition of an annual leadership forum to a very Israeli tradition: unofficial (no formal clothes), a high level of engagement during the workshops with a lot of laughing and joy. And of course, bringing Gil’s dog Nanny or Doggo of liberty.😊 Moreover, we made dinner together in the park near the venue. It was so good!
Traveling far from home, driving for hours (with a 90’s playlist on the radio), being close to nature in the deserts, and making the whole event together (all the speakers are members of SFL). This is what helped us to strengthen the group formation for our upcoming academic year.
This event was very special to me. An opportunity to spend my two last days in SFL since I decided to leave SFL the family after four years, in order to pass the torch and let the new leaders develop the organization in Israel. It was really hard for me. To be honest, it felt like breaking up from a loving relationship with a significant other. Actually, my relationship with SFL was longer than any romantic relationship I’ve ever had.😊
The event was organized by all the team of Israeli LCs, but mainly by the National Coordinator, Lior Abutbul. It was what gave me the feeling that I can trust them to organize the Israeli 3rd annual regional conference well. The LF didn’t go according to the original schedule but the indicator of a successful event is being able to re-organize the schedule on the day. Everything went smoothly. My only complaint is that I haven’t seen enough ibexes since the area is full of them.
I tried to pass the torch by telling my (very) long list of tips and guidelines from my four years of experience in SFL, but the time was too short and I couldn’t cover up everything. I guess experience itself is the best school. I think the most important thing that I tried to say is: ‘Cherish your failures and share them with others.’ Failures suck and make you feel really bad but this is the only way to learn thing deeply. Successful people are people who embrace their failures. SFL is the great place to start with.
It was so inspired to hear Rob Duffy, who came with his partner, Natalia, from the cold of Ireland. We have an annual tradition to invite a special guest from SFL abroad to share their experiences. I am always curious to try to learn how people outside of Israel perceive us. I am more curious how SFL leaders see us, the Israeli team. I was so looking forward to seeing what will happen when Rob will come to our hot country. Since Kevin Flanagan visited us in the previous leadership forum, I knew at this moment that Rob is going to be our next guest. We received some very precious knowledge from Rob, who is the Leadership Guidance Coordinator, on subjects such as time management, since all SFL leaders combine work with their study. We also learned about the leadership mindset, since the new generation of leaders is relatively new to their path as leaders.
I really appreciate Rob’s efforts to guide our team and train them toward their new way, even though he did endure some horrible heat and mosquito bites. Thank you, Rob!
The truth is that, not only Rob taught us important lessons but all the leaders did so. Each one of us in SFL has a range of knowledge to teach to others: Michael Pesin about logical fallacies, Rotem Livnat, the founder of team Israel, about the impact of student movements on policy, Gil Dagan about group formation, Moshe Gorin about community. Lior, as a woman of action, taught us a lot in the (inspiring) way she managed the whole event.
We ended our up LF with planning our next Regional Conference on 20th September, which is actually going to be completely different to the classic format of SFL Conferences in the past. Just like this Leadership Forum was.😊
I’m leaving SFL with mixed feelings of sadness because this organization was part of me for four years but I also left with a smile of satisfaction because we have a great family of great leaders to develop the next generation of liberty leadership in Israel.
– Anna Shnaidman, Regional Director for Southern Europe
I had the pleasure of being invited to speak to the leaders in SFL Israel this past week. Upon being invited, I decided to bring my partner as she was curious to see what Israel was like and we decided to make it a working holiday. I had always been curious about Israel due to the fact that in Ireland, Israel is frequently given the bad press and seen in the media as the aggressor in the dispute that exists in the region. I was surprised to read an Irish media article recently which highlighted why calls for a boycott on the Eurovision Song Contest next year in Israel are hypocrisy at best.
Our base in Israel was Tel Aviv, where we booked our Airbnb. We were very close to one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. So many people enjoying the amazing weather there. The nightlife was very lively and everywhere we went we were made feel incredibly welcome. Israel has great food too and is so diverse in terms of its influence. All meals were incredibly interesting and lots of interesting new tastes for my pallet. The market in Tel Aviv is amazing too, so vibrant and colourful with many loud personalities inviting us to try their produce.
The drive to Leadership Forum in Mitzpe Ramon was a few hours long and on the way, we had scheduled to visit to see the Anzac Memorial Centre where Israeli National Coordinator Lior Abutbul and her colleagues gave us the tour. It is a wonderful experience in which it explains the Australian and New Zealand soldiers experiences in WW1 throughout the local region using multimedia. It is well worth the visit if you are close to the area and prepared to shed a tear or two.
The Leadership Forum
The Leadership Forum took place on the Friday and Saturday in the Mitzpe Ramon in the Negav desert. The SFL scene in Israel has been relatively new and the work of Rotem Livnat and Anna Shnaidman has been pivotal in creating interest and a movement which is beginning to spread through the hard work of the leaders there. We had contributions on SFL policy from Anna Shnaidman. On libertarianism & community work from Moshe Gorin and the importance of having a vision when creating an SFL group by Gil Dagan. Michael Pesin spoke about spotting logical fallacies in arguments and Rotem Livnat talked about how students can influence policy. I gave two talks over the two days on time management and the mindset of a leader which was enjoyable with a thorough back and forth with the engaging leaders in attendance.
On Friday evening we went to see the Makhtesh Ramon which is the world’s largest crater with some awesome views and a sight to behold. This was conveniently located right next to our venue. Finally, we moved to a secluded park and enjoyed a barbecue and sat around a fire playing guitar, singing songs and arguing about which social structure is most appropriate, as libertarians are known to argue about. This was a truly tranquil place to have a student event and what impressed me the most was the second nature with which the Israeli leaders prepared the food in the wild. This can be explained, in part, due to the fact that most Israelis over 18 are conscripted to the army for at least two years and this remains a contentious issue in Israel.
Anna Shnaidman goodbye and thank you!
Anna Shnaidman recently stepped down as Regional Director and this was to be her swansong. Anna has given her committed efforts to SFL for the last four years and has made a massive impact with her enthusiasm and passion for spreading the ideas of liberty in the region. The work in Israel is only beginning and the torch of liberty grows stronger. It is in large part due to the work by Rotem and following on, Anna, that there is a growing student liberty community now flourishing in Israel.
With only two days left to explore the region, one place was recommended more than any other by the local SFL leaders – Jerusalem. We decided to take the trip there to see what the fuss was about. I had visions of Jerusalem as something quite old fashioned in my mind and many things were very old looking. Light stone and old buildings is what characterised the scenery for me. We didn’t visit the western wall as arrived quite late so we got a guided tour from Moshe Gorin, an SFL leader living in Jerusalem who kindly brought us to some secret places with some awesome views. It was less warm than Tel Aviv which was a pleasant surprise for me (heat is my nemesis). Apparently, Jerusalem is one of the more troublesome regions with a larger number of Arabs living in the region and tensions are supposedly higher. What I witnessed was many families sitting around enjoying the evening eating together and playing games. If you do go, try the falafel and the hummus, thank me later!
Overall, barring the insane heat and mosquitoes, it was an amazing trip and if you ever get the chance to visit, you will not be disappointed!
– Rob Duffy, Leadership Guidance Coordinator