Knesset member Tammy Zandberg (Meretz) told us how Conservative American Jews influence Israeli politics by investing in think tanks and social media campaigns. She explained how the NGO transparency law allows the conservative camp to continue influencing Israeli politics without interruption – while targeting money going to progressive organizations.
We had a wonderful conversation with Avi Dabush yesterday. Avi is a dynamic community organizer. He has lead a variety of social and political struggles in Israel. In the last elections, he ran for Knesset as part of Meretz. Throughout the campaign Avi was a leading voice on issues of Mizrahi identity and social justice.
Until recently he was the program director at SHATIL, the New Israel Fund’s initiative for social change. Avi left in January to devote his time to building what he calls “Rainbow coalitions.” He spoke to us about sectarianism which divides Israeli society, and the attempts to build grassroots movements uniting people and focusing on their shared interests. Avi argues that focusing on shared experience allows people to transcended identity differences and focuses on commonalities.
He told us his motto is the African Proverb – “If you want to walk fast walk alone, if you want to walk far, walk together!”
Rami Hod is the Executive Director of the Social Economic Academy (SEA). He is one of the most strategic thinking people I’ve ever met. He speaks of opportunities, building constituencies, and hope. He believes the future of the Israeli Left is in building support around social and economic interests.
Rami told us about the “quiet revolution” building strength in Israel in recent years. Israelis are becoming more progressive on economic issues. Since 2011 Israelis are organizing in their communities, joining labor unions in vast numbers and demonstrating for their economic rights. They have had many successes: parents mobilized and won free public education for children from the age of three, for example. This is a grassroots revolution that has been unrecognized outside Israel.
Listen to our conversation with Rami Hod. You will not regret it. Read More »
We spoke today to MK Merav Michaeli about the achievements of the opposition in the Knesset and the challenges the Israeli Left is facing.
She spoke about the incitement against the Left and how despite the hostile political and media environment the Opposition in the Knesset succeeded in voting down eight bills since the beginning of the year.
“Hope,” she said, “is a decision. The place and the time we need hope the most is when it looks like the situation is hopeless. That is the time when we need to find the hope within ourselves.”
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Listen to MK Michaeli
We spoke today with Professor Danny Gutwein. Gutwein is one of the most prominent public intellectuals of the Israeli Left today. He teaches Jewish History at Haifa University, but spends much of his time inspiring, building and supporting a grassroots movement which offers an alternative political vision and action.
Gutwein has a large following. He participated in the television Social and Economic Policy documentary series the Silver Platter (Magash Hakesef). The series had over two million viewers (read more here). It was so popular that Channel 8 was pressured to take two of the three episodes off the web. He is regular commentator on the Israeli radio and television, where he is invited to speak about anything from Netanyahu’s gas deal to Bernie Sanders.
Partners for Progressive Israel commemorated Martin Luther King Day with a conversation with MK Dr. Yousuf Jabareen.
Dr. Jabareen, a Knesset member representing the Joint List, is a human rights scholar, lawyer, and community activist. He completed his doctoral dissertation at Georgetown University conducting comparative research on the legal status of African-Americans in the United States in the 1950s and 60s, and that of Israeli Arabs.
Dr. Jabareen argued that the Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel are a forgotten indigenous minority. He reminded us that 18% of Israeli citizens, some 1.6 million people, are indigenous Palestinians. The Palestinian citizens of Israel comprise the poorest communities of the country. Their unemployment rates are significantly higher. Fifty percent of them are under the poverty line.
Dr. Jabareen made a case for the comparison of the Palestinian citizens of Israel to the African Americans before the Civil Rights Movement, arguing that they are simultaneously discriminated against by law and by governmental practice.
The basic principle of a democratic system – equal citizenship – does not exist in Israel. In Many areas it does not exist by law […] When I think of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, I think of the march to first class citizenship. […] The classification of first and second class citizenship was seen in the US not only as a legal wrong, but also a moral wrong. […] This goes against the democratic values of equality and equal citizenship. But I think it also goes against moral values – everyone should be treated equal and every citizen should have equal chances and equal opportunities.
Listen to the call, its worth an hour of your time.
In a Conversation with Israel and Palestine, MK Benny Begin (Likud) stated that we recognize that no deal with the Palestinian Authority is possible.
Departing from Naomi Chazan’s optimism of and the Avrum Burg’s idealism, Begin argued not only that no peace agreement is on the horizon, but furthermore, Begin fundamentally believes that a peace agreement is impossible to achieve. To support his argument, he quoted MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint List) who said that “The maximum proposed by Olmert did not approach the minimum that Abu Mazen needed in order to reach an agreement.” No Israeli Government, Begin said, even one headed by MK Zehava Galon (Meretz) or Issac Herzog (Zionist Camp) will agree to the Palestinian right of return, and no Palestinian leadership can give up on the right of return.
“One hundred years ago, could you imagine Protestants and Catholics marrying each other, or Jews and Christians could marry each other? Seventy years ago could you imagine Germany and France leading Europe together – with an open border? No, but look at it now!”
Thus Avrum Burg entreated his audience to consider the possibility of a confederation-style state as the most likely possible outcome for the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, rather than the standard liberal position of two states for two peoples.
Burg stated that the two-state solution is dead in the water. A two state solution is no longer the answer to the conflict, if it ever was. Instead, he laid out a confederation model that would include elements of both the two-state and one-state solution. Read More »
Today was our first of a three part series on the future of the state of Israel and the two-state solution.
Listen to our conversation with Prof. Chazan.
Naomi Chazan kicked off the conversation speaking frankly about the untenable and immoral nature of the occupation, and how it severely harms both Palestinians and the Israeli state.
Chazan argued that two peoples occupy the land in parity. The number of Palestinian nearly equals the number of Israeli Jews between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea. Chazan asserted that the best bet for co-existance would also support the national aspirations of both peoples – a two-state solution.
This problem isn’t a new one. It has existed since before the creation of the state in 1948. However, after 1967 it took on much greater urgency. Now that the Occupation nearing its 50 year mark, the current generation of Palestinians – the third generation to live under the Occupation – has no recollection of what it was like to live free of it – the urgency is that much greater.
Dr. Gershon Baskin should be a household name at this point. Though he is best known as the person responsible for the secret back-channel talks between Israel and the Hamas that successfully negotiated the release of Israeli abducted soldier Gilad Shalit, he is also one of the most well-informed commentators on Gaza and Hamas.
In this recorded conversation, Gershon clues us in on the changes in Gaza since the 2005 disengagement.
Dr. Baskin was the Israeli Co-Director and founder of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) – a joint Israeli-Palestinian public policy think and “do”-tank located in Jerusalem. During the Premiership of the late Yitzhak Rabin, he served as an advisor on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to a secret team of intelligence officers established by Mr. Rabin. Dr. Baskin was a member of the Jerusalem Experts Committee established by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office during the Final Status Negotiations in 2000-2001. Read More »