Inside track to peace – Gershon Baskin

Inside track to peace – Gershon Baskin

  • Speaking at Meretz UK
  • Hashomer House, 37a Broadhurst Gardens, London NW6 3QT

  • Thursday, 1 May, from 7.30 pm

  • Refreshments served; contributions 
  • £6.5. con' £4.5, members £2.5

“If you wish it, it is no fairytale” Theodor Herzl once said. To many Israelis and Palestinians the dream of peace, or just normal coexistence, has sadly remained just that – a fairytale. Yet seasoned negotiator and academic Gershon Baskin believes peace is possible. That is, as he recently argued in a Jewish Chronicle op-ed, if Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas truly got to know each other and developed the trust without which peace will never blossom.

So it is with great pleasure that Meretz UK invites you to hear from the man himself.

In Baskin’s words “The goal is to reach the really hard work of making peace, which begins the day after the agreement is reached.” last October he stated in another JC essay that “peace is closer than you think” even if there are pitfalls. And he speaks from personal experience. As the chief intermediary between Hamas and the Israeli government, Baskin played a key role in achieving the release of Gilad Schalit in late 2011, after years during which the young soldier languished in a Gaza prison. Last year Baskin published his book “The Negotiator”, about the hidden story of the Schalit and Palestinian prisoners swap. Likewise he advised successive Israeli administrations on peace negotiations, officially and unofficially, from Rabin to Barak and now to Netanyahu.

Born in the USA and deeply involved in the civil rights movement as a young student, Gershon immigrated to Israel in 1978 as an “Intern for Peace” and was soon working in an Israeli Arab village. The winner of numerous awards, a regular Jerusalem Post columnist and holder of a PhD, in 1988 he founded the Israel/Palestine Centre for Research and served as its co-director until 2012. Baskin is a compelling speaker who loves engaging with his audience. He presents a rare peek into the necessarily secret world of top level diplomacy, with all its high hopes and frequent disappointments. On Thursday he will focus on the breaking news of the day – the Hamas/Fatah unity pact, the arduous task of John Kerry, and the intricacies of cabinet debates and coalition politics in Jerusalem... perhaps even the effect of the Syrian crisis ‘next door’. Not to be missed!

http://gershonbaskin.org/                         www.meretz.org.uk


Rainbow at Hashomer house-Liz Goldberg's painting exhibition

To All  Dear   Liz Goldberg's Friends

We still find it hard to process and accept 

 Liz is not with us   since last December. 

Meretz UK invites you to an exhibition of Liz's  paintings 

 We warmly welcome all to view her art and celebrate her life. 

 Liz loves   colours,  and she used it  in her beautiful creations

Hashomer House will be open 

From 2pm till 6pm, Sunday, 20 April, , basement 37a Broadhurst Gardens, 

NW6 3QT. Nearest tube: Finchley Road.

RSVP 0794 297 8780

Liz you will be missed


What a year!

Just over a year ago Meretz doubled the number of seats in elections to the Israeli Knesset, from three to six.

Since then the party has sadly lost some great personalities: Shulamit Aloni, who we cited in our last posting, and more recently the veteran former health minister, chair of Mapam and pioneering peacemaker, Victor Shem-Tov.

However, the intervening year or so has also seen Meretz score a number of landmark successes. As Bianca Ambrosio, operations manager of the World Union of Meretz, tells us, the party has legislated on many issues, fought a number of vital campaigns, accomplished numerous breakthroughs for ordinary citizens and increased in size. Meretz also bolstered Israel's oft-threatened democracy with petitions, and while it occasionally got frustrated it invariably persisted and fought back!


Tribute to Shulamit Aloni z'l

Shulamit at synagogue, Kfar Shmaryahu - Nir Kafri for Ha'aretz
Meretz UK mourns the passing of Shulamit Aloni, a true leader of the Israeli left and someone who many members knew and loved. Aloni helped create Meretz out of Mapam and Ratz, and played a key role as cabinet minister in the 1993-5 Rabin administration. She was an outstanding campaigner for civil rights, peace, education, social justice and enhancing the role of women in Israeli society.

As Idit Harel Caperton recently wrote in the Huffington Post, I cannot imagine Israel without her Meretz. The Washington Post and Jewish Daily Forward ran informative pieces, as did Al-Monitor and Ha'aretz. Below we relay an article by Gideon Levy, also from Ha'aretz, which captures much of the essence of this remarkable woman - and also suggests that the task Shulamit devoted her life to is by no means over!

Our sincere condolences to her family, friends and past colleagues in Israel and around the world...

זכרונה לברכה

Shulamit Aloni: The great woman of the dreams
by Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz

Shulamit Aloni was the first lady of Israel, the first lady of the remains of its liberalism and openness. She took part in shaping the state, but was one of the few figures in its history to do so other than by means of rivers of blood. Not a celebrated general with a chestful of medals, not the “exterminator of terror,” neither conqueror nor settler, yet still an Israeli hero – a civilian hero, for a change. 

She was controversial – Golda Meir despised her at the start of her career, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef at the end – but no one disputed her honesty, determination or courage. Here was a woman, an Israeli leader, the controversy around whom revolved not wars, but rather around civil rights, the separation of state and religion, minority rights and social justice, all of them rare issues in Israel.

Aloni was the founding mother of them all: She invented Israeli enlightenment. She was the first, inspiring others and pointing the way. She did not always succeed, knowing more than a few painful failures, and late in life she became more extreme, railing at many things that she herself had helped to create. I would needle her, “You built this all,” to which she would respond indignantly, “It didn’t turn out the way we planned.”

And still, many Israelis owe her their rights and their standing – consumers; gay, lesbian and transgender individuals; Arabs and Jews; men and, above all, women – and perhaps they are not aware of this.

We bonded over the occupation. We played tennis together at the Sonesta Hotel in occupied Taba, in the period when her husband, Reuven, was head of the Israeli occupation administration in Sinai. On the tennis court, a good place for discerning personal character, she was arrow-straight and devoid of the desire to win at any cost.

The Aloni I knew was not only a woman of principle, but also had a lust for life. One time, when we had a lunch date, she brought me to a Whitman ice-cream shop for “American waffles,” topped with mountains of ice cream, whipped cream and a Maraschino cherry. You only live once, she said at the time, and Aloni lived a full, rich life. She enjoyed art and culture, had a thing for designer clothing and drove a trendy red jeep – yet was still a warrior for justice.

Lacking any cynicism, Aloni quit government coalitions and positions when necessary and was one of the most humble, least egotistic politicians I have known. At a time when most of her colleagues – including the most righteous among them – worried about their reputations and receiving proper credit, Aloni cared only about the issues themselves.

She was the third angle of the triangle of Sonia and Shimon Peres at the Ben-Shemen Youth Village, sharing a tent with the couple – how their paths diverged since that time.

She was Israeli (and Zionist) to the bone, a great patriot. When we walked together one time through the alleys of Cairo, I begged her not to talk aloud in Hebrew – even then, it was dangerous for Israelis in Egypt – and she didn’t heed me, nearly shouting in Hebrew. When necessary, and even when not, Aloni always said what she thought, and thought what she said.

Now she has successors – one works for gay rights, another battles the occupation, while this one sees to women’s rights and that one to minority rights, one fights the religious establishment and another champions freedom of expression – but not one of them encompasses what she encompassed. One brave woman flying so very many flags. Perhaps that is the reason the Zionist left that remains is a weak, stuttering, apologetic left.

She was the great woman of the dreams, in the title of the Yehoshua Kenaz novel: the dream of an egalitarian, secular, democratic and just society.

She was the great woman of the disappointment: Most of her dreams did not come true. Israel became a worse place – racist, ultranationalist, occupying, theocratic and bullying, its democracy and equality in tatters.

Precisely the opposite of everything she preached. Was she ahead of her time? Absolutely not. She came at exactly the right time, but perhaps she left too soon. It’s Israel that drew back from her, and with horrifying steps.