Meretz UK would like to offer sincere thanks to Ahlam Akram for a most stimulating and thought-provoking meeting on Sunday 11 September.
The topic was Israelis and Palestinians in the light of the Palestinian bid for UN recognition. In her talk Mrs Akram blended passion with compassion, pragmatism with a sense of justice denied, and a plea to formalise peace now before the opportunity passes forever. While touching on many fascinating aspects of past history, her central thesis was that both sides have to listen to each others' histories, and then look to the future. Notwithstanding the problems, Palestinian UN representation was essential to building the vision of a two-state solution, argued Mrs Akram. And with the two peoples so inextricably bound together, neither can delude itself into thinking that denying the other's rights can lead to peace.
At question time issues ranged from the Turkish flotilla to Gaza and past wars, to signs of reconciliation in unexpected places, the ongoing needs of a population under occupation, the intricacies of UN politics and the legal sphere, fears of violence and hopes for diplomatic progress.
Yehuda Erdman opened the proceedings by welcoming an above-average size audience and outlining what Meretz UK has done in recent years. He also mentioned plans for the future, starting with our upcoming AGM.
After Lawrence Joffe introduced Ahlam, she then set the tone splendidly and appropriately by calling for a minute's silence in commemoration of the victims of the horrific terror attacks of 9/11, and all who have died from subsequent violence. Question-time was lively, to say the least, and Ahlam deserves credit for handling all queries and interventions with aplomb and patience.
Lastly, at a time when, unfortunatley, voices on all sides are trying to shut down dialogue between Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians, Meretz UK is pleased to have offered a platform here in London for a no-holds-barred discussion of events which concern us all. In short, a memorable evening.
Thanks to all for coming along, and to Yael and others who helped with the planning. And thank you especially to Ahlam Akram for her candour, her generosity of spirit, and her ability to synthesise such complex and emotive issues into such a clear and compelling presentation!