Legislative Round-Up- July 5, 2024

Produced by the Foundation for Middle East Peace. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

1. Bills, Resolutions
2. Letters
3. Hearings
4. Israel/Palestine in 2024 Elex/Politics
5. Selected Media & Press releases/Statements

Note: Huge thanks to Haydn Welch and Sheridan Cole, advocacy officers at the Middle East Democracy Center, for their great work guest-writing the Round-Up the past two weeks!

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The Dream Alone is Not Enough- Hadar Susskind (July 8, 2024)

In 1902, Herzl wrote 'im tirtzu, ein zo agada; if you will it, it is no dream' (ok, so he wrote it in German and Nachum Sokolov translated it into Hebrew). When he wrote these words, the idea that he was contemplating, a national home for the Jewish people, was considered by most to be fantastical, impossible, or downright ridiculous. And yet, even in the face of being told repeatedly that what he was working toward was unachievable, Herzl did not give up. The power of this quote is not in saying that you should dream big. It is in the fact that it requires you to will your dreams into existence. The second part is quoted far less often, but its lesson is no less important: ve'im lo tirtzu, agada hi ve'agada tisha'er'; and if you do not will it, a dream it is and a dream it shall remain.

Herzl’s dream of a Jewish homeland was realized with the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948. And today we dream of a homeland for the Jewish people and a homeland for the Palestinian people. We dream of peace. We dream of a better future where Israeli children and Palestinian children do not grow up in conflict and are not taught hatred, but rather live and flourish together. 

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It’s Time: The Israeli Event to Revive the Peace Movement

By Naomi Paiss

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On Monday night, thousands of activists and ordinary people converged on a sports arena in Tel Aviv to reconsecrate their liberal, democratic values. Jews and Palestinians, secular and religious, old and young streamed through the doors as supporters of two dozen organizations working for peace and equality in Israel, including Peace Now.

There were no speeches by professional NGO directors nor were there long policy prescriptions. There were few specific references even to the current government, or to the latest controversies about drafting the ultra-Orthodox or plans for new West Bank settlements.

Instead, with the exception of some professional musicians (god bless Noa and Mira Awad!), it was mostly ordinary people with a personal stake in Israel’s dreadful present who spoke with sorrow but hope about the future. Early on, nine people lined up on stage: one survived October 7 but lost his parents and uncle. A Palestinian’s mother is trapped in Gaza. A hostage who returned in November. Six more who have suffered terror and loss and fear for their closest relatives. They ended their segment with a prayer, blessed be he who redeems and bypasses revenge.

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Legislative Round-Up-June 28, 2024

Produced by the Foundation for Middle East Peace. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

  1. Bills & Resolutions

  2. Letters

  3. Hearings & Markups

  4. Israel/Palestine in 2024 Elex/Politics

  5. Selected Media & Press releases/statements

This week’s round-up was guest-written by Haydn Welch and Sheridan Cole, advocacy officers at the Middle East Democracy Center, with contributions by Lara Friedman.

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Yossi Alpher is an independent security analyst. He is the former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, a former senior official with the Mossad, and a former IDF intelligence officer. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

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Statement- Americans for Peace Now Elects Lisa Greer to Board of Directors

June 28, 2024- Americans for Peace Now is pleased to welcome Lisa Greer to the organization’s Board of Directors.

Lisa Greer is a philanthropist, nonprofit advisor, and convener. She is the author of the bestselling Philanthropy Revolution and the newly released The Essential Fundraiser's Handbook. Currently, Lisa serves as commissioner of the California State Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, where she sits on the Executive Committee. She also serves on the international board of the New Israel Fund as well as the Executive Committee of the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors. Earlier in her career, Lisa was a studio executive at NBC and Universal Studios, and she founded and led several companies including a management consulting and strategic advisory firm specializing in digital media and entertainment businesses.

Hadar Susskind, President and CEO of APN, said: “I am thrilled to welcome Lisa to our board and to continue working with her in this new capacity. I know she will make a great addition to our group of devoted, conscientious board members, especially as we move ahead with our merger with Ameinu and the launch of the new organization.”

APN’s Chair of the Board, James Klutznick, said: “Lisa is an important leader in our sector, and we are pleased to have her bring her commitment to peace and justice to the board of APN."
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Legislative Round-Up- June 21, 2024

Produced by the Foundation for Middle East Peace. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

1. Bills, Resolutions
2. Letters
3. Hearings
4. Israel/Palestine in 2024 Elex/Politics
5. Selected Media & Press releases/Statements

This week’s round-up was guest-written by Haydn Welch and Sheridan Cole, advocacy officers at the Middle East Democracy Center, with contributions by Lara Friedman.

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A Tale of Two Jews- Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin (June 24, 2024)

Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin, a scholar and writer, is an international political and strategic consultant. She has advised and conducted research on nine national campaigns in Israel over the past twenty years, and has provided research and advising for elections, referendums, and civil society campaigns in fifteen different countries. She is the author of The Crooked Timber of Democracy in Israel

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Statement- Israeli Government's Move Towards West Bank Annexation

June 24, 2024- As the New York Times reports, Israeli Finance Minister and settler leader Bezalel Smotrich is well on his way to achieving his goal: annexation of the West Bank. On May 29, the IDF’s website noted that enforcement of several key laws governing the West Bank had been transferred from military to civilian authority, under Smotrich’s direction in his other role as a senior official in the Defense Ministry. He has proposed four new West Bank settlements and attempted to impose sanctions on the Palestinian Authority, all in retaliation for other nations’ formal recognition of Palestine. APN’s sister organization in Israel, Peace Now, was responsible for making a recording of Smotrich’s remarks available to the media.

Americans for Peace Now warns that annexation of the West Bank is no longer a settler pipe dream, but a reality occurring while the world’s attention is focused on the war in Gaza.  Transferring powers from the military to civilian control amounts to legal annexation under international law, and makes a mockery of American policy supporting a two-state solution. Smotrich makes no secret of his intentions to “change the system’s DNA” and smash any possibility of Palestinian autonomy or statehood in the West Bank for once and for all.

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Transcript: Looking to the Future- Maoz Inon and Aziz Abu Sarah on a Post-October-7th World

Hadar Susskind:

Hello, everybody, and welcome to this Americans for Peace Now webinar. Those of you who are regulars with us know that this is the part where I participate in the time honored Washington tradition of filibustering a little bit, as it takes a minute or two for everyone to get into the Zoom Room. So again, thank you for being with us. I'm Hadar Susskind. I'm the President and CEO of Americans for Peace. Now, I will introduce my colleagues and guests in just a moment. But hang on, thank you for your patience. Apologies for starting a couple of minutes late. And in just a minute or two, we will get rolling and kick things off. So thank you very much. Let's see how are we looking here? Okay. All right, I'm going to start us off with our introductions. Again, I thank you all for being here for joining us today. I'm Hadar Susskind, President and CEO of Americans for Peace Now, I'm joined by my colleague Maxxe Albert-Deitch, who many of you probably know already. And we've got one of our two guests in and are going to kick things off and hopefully be joined by the other. So with us today is our friend Aziz Abu Sarah. Aziz, some of you might know those of you who perhaps have participated in our APN trips to Israel/Palestine over the last few years. We've worked with Aziz and his colleagues and partners at MEJDI on those trips, but we're not here particularly to talk about that. What we're here to talk about today, and really to hear from Aziz and his colleague, Maoz, who should be joining us any moment is really the work that they've been doing together the remarkable work I should say they've been doing together, particularly since October 7, and you will hear it from them. But both Aziz and Maoz are people who have lost family members and have suffered greatly, as have so many through this conflict. And yet, what they are doing, again, is remarkable, they refuse to allow that, to push them apart. Instead, they are taking this moment and coming together as a Palestinian citizen, as a Palestinian as a Jewish Israeli, to say we need to be speaking out together. And we need to be working together toward peace. Many of you have probably seen their TED Talk, we've shared it a number of times, and we'll do so again in the chat later, and probably are aware of that Aziz and Maoz had the opportunity to meet with the Pope not that long ago, which I don't know if it's something I've ever done. So that doesn't come around every day. So again, Maoz we are having some technical difficulties, but I think he will be with us very, very shortly. And until then, I want to start off with Aziz. I'll start off introducing Aziz a little bit more as a Palestinian entrepreneur and a peace activist, the co-founder of InterAct International and MEDJI Tours again with whom we have worked and continue to work, the former executive director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University. And Aziz, it's nice to see you again. I last saw you I think in Tel Aviv in March. Good to be here with you. We're still working on getting Maoz in but while we're doing that, why don't you just tell us a little bit about you know, this moment and what what you two are doing and how, how it's coming together.

 

Aziz Abu Sarah:

It's important maybe to just mention how Maoz I reconnected. So Maoz, like me, is an entrepreneur. He also works in tourism. So we had a connection already from years ago, but we never really got to know each other. We met maybe once, maybe more for five minutes. We use Abraham Hostels which he is one of the founders. And then on October 7th, I heard from a friend later I think that night who one of my tour guides and said the the you know that Maoz parents were killed and so I decided to send him a message and just offer my condolences and tell him that this is not in, in my name, what what happened and that I'm standing with him and I cry with him. And he responded immediately and honestly, in those moments, you never know what you're gonna get. You might get angry messages you might get which I totally would have understood as well, but I thought it's important to do that. To just send that message and hello Maoz. And we connected a week or so after and just started connecting again and again and then realized, we have so much in common. And partially what we have in common is our loss. My brother, his parents, there's something about pain that can unify you, especially if you have a similar vision. And so we started doing a lot of work together from actually when we met in March. Hadar, we were leading a trip together, we spoke to a group of rabbis and we had rabbis, teachers, someone coming on a trip. And so we did that together, Maoz and I and then we, we focused heavily on changing the language and also pushing the public narrative, the public conversation to be different. So we've gone everywhere. I've talked to everybody in the media in organizations and conferences and meeting politicians in meeting the Pope, as you mentioned earlier, and just trying to push for a change of how this discourse is happening. And building a movement as we did that met with dozens of Israelis and Palestinian peacemakers and trying to come up with a map forward of how do you move forward from where we are today? I know Maoz has been working really hard in the July 1 event, and I'm sure he'll talk about a lot more. So there's so much going on. It always feels not enough. But there's so much going on.

 

Hadar Susskind:

Thank you, Aziz. So I want to take a minute and introduce Maoz. Also, because we were slightly discombobulated at the beginning. I skipped our housekeeping. So I want to remind everybody, we want you to ask questions, please use the Q&A button at the bottom to do so without raising your hand. As we get into the conversation, we will be looking at those questions and addressing as many of them as we can. So thank you for that. Maoz, thank you very much for joining us, I think you missed our little introduction. We kind of introduced the talk.

 

Maoz Inon:

I could hear everything. 

 

Hadar Susskind:

Oh, you could, okay, great. So just for folks who don't know most first of all, you should, which is good that you're here today. But he is an Israeli social entrepreneur and a peace activist also has founded several tourism companies in Israel and throughout the Middle East. And many of you probably know him from the Abraham Hostel and the tour brands, which so many of us have used and have been part of our trips that we've participated in and led over the years. So hello Maoz and thank you for being with us. 

 

Maoz Inon:

Hey, good afternoon, morning, evening, wherever you are, it's a real pleasure and honor to be here with you. And it's a real privilege to listen to Aziz because I was off the screen. So I could listen to Aziz very well, thinking about what I will need to stay. And it's just every word that Aziz is saying I'm learning something new, even if I read it again, and again, I get a new perspective, a new something in the tone. That is really, I really appreciate it. 

 

Hadar Susskind:

So, Maoz, Aziz just told us a little bit about how the two of you reconnected, and obviously the very painful difficult circumstances of that. But maybe you want to tell us a little bit about, you know how you went from that. You know, that moment of October 7th, in your own loss in your family, to take that and taking but I'm sure it was just incredible pain and sadness. And deciding that this work is what you need to do with that.

 

Maoz Inon: 

I will start if you won't mind again, saying what is being shared between Aziz and myself, but between so many others, Palestinian Israelis, we recognize October the 7th as an opportunity. And I'm privileged to say that because I lost both my parents. On that day, we realized that the status quo was that we can manage the conflict or there will be no outcome or consequence to the occupation and oppression. We thought it's gonna it's, it's manageable. And we both realized we knew it before. But we are now using it as an opportunity to change the future and envision a new future and a new future of equality, of justice, of peace and reconciliation. And we are using all we have done before in our business life and career in our peace life. We are bringing it all together with many, many others individuals and organizations civil society organization. Of course, Peace Now is one of the leading organizations and we are not going to compromise on less than sustainable and lasting peace. We have a goal we have, we have a destination, and this is the destination is the last thing and sustainable peace. And now we are working very hard in order to make it happen. And this is, this webinar is part of those actions. So we are, we seriously are working so hard, I think both, not just as Aziz and I but many of us are as busy as ever, we are working so hard, because first there is an urgency. There is an urgency, the war is still waging, civilians are being killed, hostages and prisoners are being held in captivity. And if we continue on the path we've been going in the last century, and that is, we're going to reach a number of victims that no one could imagine, like on October 7, what will unfold in the next eight months, so the catastrophe can be beyond our imagination. So there is a lot of urgency. And what brought me into it is that I was broken, I was literally broken and drowning in an ocean of sorrow, pain and agony. And then I had a dream that I saw that, with our cry and tears of humanity of all mankind, we can be healed and cured. And those tears can wash the blood from the Holy Land. And our tears can bring or can create the path to peace. And I've decided on that night when I have this dream to choose this path in order to cure myself and to heal myself. And then those that are around me and I can say we are five siblings. Four of us totally changed our career and life. And we are now peace activists. My brother Magen in London is now doing an event with Hamze Awawde and Milwad, two, Palestinian peace activists in Oxford University. And my sister, my eldest sister, is organizing the one of the organizers of the July 1 Peace event. And my other sister is now working closely with the Forum Circle and meeting and entering schools, and Jewish youth, Israeli youth to dialogue with them and to share the pain but also the possibilities of the future. So yeah, so it's a journey. And we started, we started the journey, the journey of peace.

 

Maxxe Albert-Deitch:

I love that you guys are using the word journey. Because I mean, that really is an incredible journey that you're on. I mean, you did a TED talk, which has reached mass numbers of people you met with the Pope. I mean, what's it like to be doing all of this work and to be engaging with this so constantly, while also being somewhere that is not where all of it is happening? I mean, this is all happening at home for you guys.

 

Aziz Abu Sarah:

Yeah, I mean, one, it's, it's incredible to be able to do that work, because we know that if we are to reach a peace agreement it is because of this work. And I'm sure you guys know exactly what we talked about. Because we are all part of this journey together. The reason we are going to these events, we are going to TED, we are going to meet with the Pope, we are trying to meet with anybody who's willing to listen is because we understand this is beyond just what the Israelis and Palestinians can do. And it must have the buy-in and it must have the solidarity and the pressure and the support of many, many other players around the world and somebody like Pope Francis. I'll give you an example that is so powerful in the way he was able to help us. One simple thing is just the fact we met with him at Arena di Pace. There were 12 13,000 people there when we were meeting with him. It was aired on live television in Italy as he spoke and said to everyone in Italy, in the arena, that I don't want you just to listen to these guys, I want you to reflect and think how to help this movement. These were the words of Pope Francis. And then every Italian newspaper and television for the week after has been in touch with Maoz and I and then went from there. I just was at an event in Portugal and my friends in Portugal are like, oh, we saw the whole thing on television, it was on primetime TV, had friends in Brazil, friends in Argentina, friends, literally all over the world, saying your words have been amplified by what the Pope has said. And by him giving you that opportunity, not just for me and Maoz, but for all of us, for all of us who are working for peace. So it is important to realize that we need that kind of solidarity, especially in a time where it's not as common yet. And even when we went to recently to the G7. He took our message with him, we tried, we pushed hard to have people from the peace movement to be invited to the G7. But the fact we were in there, we had an ambassador there, and to have someone to speak on our behalf there who has an influence on the leaders who are attending resulted in some in something the language changed, of how the leaders there spoke about the civil society and Israelis and Palestinians working together. That is partially because of the support of this work of Pope Francis.

 

Maoz Inon:

Yes, exactly. And it says starting with a personal journey, this is also that need to want to emphasize it start with a personal journey, a decision that each one of us can make Aziz and I and you took it that we want peace, that peace is possible. So it's starting from a personal journey. And then when you meet on the path, brilliant people, like Aziz, like Pope Francis, but so many others. And we've been encouraged on social media. For me, it's on the streets. There is no passing day that someone I've never met before, is approaching me and congratulating me. For the work I'm doing. We're doing. And one of the questions, also just to reflect, the meeting with the Pope. So before we went on stage, we were backstage with three or four Italian reporters, journalists. And they all asked us the same question. Is peace possible? Is peace possible? And Aziz and I, we traveled to Italy from Brazil. And then two weeks after like, two weeks after meeting the Pope, there was the EU election? And what we answer them is that you are the answer. You're the proof that peace is possible. Because 80 years ago, there was war raging in Europe, in two world wars 10 millions of people. That's the same people, nationalities that are sitting here in the arena, those that the Pope called them peacebuilders. They were killing each other only eighty years ago. And now the European flag, you can see it on all official buildings throughout Europe. Everyone is using the same currency, no borders, no checkpoints, and voting to the same parliament. So of course, peace is possible. And now because we are meeting so many knowledgeable and experienced people, I will, I realized I don't know if I share it with you Aziz yet. It's been 80 years, since 75, since the end of the Second World War, and 79 years since the foundation of the UN and the international court in Agh. And nearly 30 years since the last big peace agreement throughout the globe. And we forgot the legacy of peace. We forgot the importance of making the enemies of the past into the partners of the future. And we must renew those vows. We need to renew those vows. It's not just for the Israelis and Palestinian. It's for humanity because humanity is and there is a crisis in humanity. And like the ripple effect of what's happening between the Jordan, to the between the sea to the river, is now contributing to the polarization, the Islamophobia, the antisemitism, in such a great and tragic way. We can also do the opposite. If there will be peace,  between the river and the sea in the Holy Land in the Promised Land, it's going to impact the entire humanity. And it's up not just for Aziz and myself, for the Palestinians, Israelis, peace movement, and coalition. It's for humanity. It's for the sake of humanity, we must make peace between the river and the sea as soon as possible. Before it's going to be too late. Before it's gonna be too late, too late.

 

Hadar Susskind:

Thank you, Maoz. I want to ask both of you. You know, you talked about the personal journey, I think Maoz you said? How you know your work, again, I know you've both been involved in this space as long before October 7, but it feels, the reality feels so different now. How are you seeing people, are people in your space, family, friends. Maoz you talked a little about your family, but, you know, positive and accepting of the work that you're doing? Are you getting pushback or negativity from your own communities? Also, how are you, I mean, we see those of us who are paying attention, you know, see the strife happening on the Israeli and the Palestinian Street? How, how is that playing out for you, in your personal capacity?

 

Maoz Inon:

Aziz we will keep the turns? So go ahead. 

 

Aziz Abu Sarah:

Okay. How has it affected our families and people around us and friends? I mean, look, it's been, it's been a nightmare, because few days after October 7th, you know, comes October 7th, I have multiple friends who have either been killed or hurt people I worked with, who had family members who have been taken captive, and so on, on the Israeli side. And then on the Palestinian side, my friends in Gaza, are living in hell, like absolutely hard to even know what to tell them. Sometimes I have one friend. I told Maoz about who lost 50 people in his family. It's you, you don't know where to start. And yet when I told him what I'm doing, he was extremely supportive after we did, Maoz and I, our TED talk. He was one of the first people I reached out to, and his words to me were, I'm proud of what you are doing. So we have those, I think both of us have those kinds of friends, my family, I'm very fortunate my family have gone through the same journey I've gone through. They weren't. They weren't supportive of this work in the beginning, when I first reached out to them 25 years ago and said this is what I'm doing. And I'm gonna do some stuff with Israelis and Palestinians. My dad was convinced that every Israeli works for the Shabak, and every Israeli is gonna get me in prison and they are just trying to get me to say the wrong thing. So I will be arrested. That was his, what he was convinced of. And with the years they've been attending some of the work I'm doing and coming to some of the events and they may not be as active as I am, but they all have been extremely supportive. There are friends who are not, I think, like, like I mentioned that there's a lot of hurt, there's a lot of pain. And we can dismiss hurt and pain, we can even dismiss anger, anger is a normal thing in these kinds of situations you reading about and knowing people, you know, getting hurt and killed and so on. And not everyone can respond the same way Maoz have responded Magen, have responded. I think some people sometimes need more time some people have to struggle through this. I have a lot of appreciation for Maoz's bravery. Because I couldn't do that. It took me eight years of a journey to get to where he was able to get to in a few days. But yeah, I think what people need in these times instead of attacking them and fighting with them, and all of that is to cry with them, is to be with them, is to show them that you care and to show them that you understand the pain they are going through. This is the worst time I think to go to someone who's been directly hurt and start lecturing them. It's time to go and give them a hug. It's time to go and say I'm with you. I understand your pain. I think one of the most moving moments for me through this whole last nine months was a friend of mine and an Israeli friend of mine, who called me on I think it was October 8 or ninth and he lives abroad right now and he called me and said I need to talk to you. And I say, Okay, what's happening is I'm angry. And I'm calling because I need someone to cry with. And he just started cussing at everybody. He went left and right, and then started crying. And then for the next, you know, we put on FaceTime. And for the next half an hour, the two of us were crying together, because we both were angry, we both were sad, we both were heartbroken. And sometimes that is also needed. So, yeah, we have, I think, a mix of different reactions and friends. But in the midst of all of that, I think what we are trying to do is to show what can be done from our pain. And we always say pain, anger, those things are like nuclear power, you can either use it to destroy, or you can use it to make light and we trying through and from our pain, to do something that brings light rather than brings destruction. We are the biggest threat to extremism, our existence, the fact we are together, the fact we can be on this, on this livestream or webinar together. That is the biggest threat to those who say war is the only answer. And our response to them is that we intend to surprise reality until it changes and that's what we are doing. And so, and our friends, our families, people around us, I think if you're patient, they come around, and if they're not with us now they come around.

 

Maoz Inon:

Yeah, totally. Just I will, I will summarize. Many of my friends are coming around. May I get at least once a day or twice a day a message from someone that says, Maoz I couldn't watch your messages on social media. I was so angry, and I couldn't understand how are you willing to forgive and to reconcile? And who will you make peace with? Just we, like we blocked you. And it took us six months, seven months, eight months? And now we understand that you are right from day one. How can we help you? And how can we be part of your journey? We want to join you. So everyone , even those from the other side, will still say we do want peace. Do you want peace? Yes, we want peace. So this is also something in the mind that I'm start we start like a seating in those that are still supportive of the war. Okay, we still sit in them that they want peace and just the world peace. And yes, we live in a bubble. Okay, let's be honest, we live, we are in this webinar 147 people, we live in a bubble, but this bubble is getting bigger and bigger. This is the beauty about it. Because hope, like it's like it's growing. Okay, it says we are using we are practicing hope will practicing peace, we are practicing reconciliation and we get better and better at it. And we are affecting others. So yes, we live in a bubble, but the bubble is getting bigger and bigger. And soon we'll be the majority. And then everyone will want to join our bubble. Okay, so then it's going to be one happy humanity. There will always be the extremist. And then I will. But again, if we'll offer an alternative if we'll have a very clear vision, and will prove that this is the only way to bring to cure what's painful, and each one of us and something different that is painful for him. For one, it's equality, oppression, security, safety, dignity, freedom of movement of speech, but we can clear all this in our own journey, the journey to peace.

 

Maxxe Albert-Deitch:

I want to go back to something that you said earlier in this conversation, Maoz, you mentioned the idea of managing the conflict and sort of the way that things were even before everything went I mean, as wrong as it could possibly go on October 7. Can you talk, both of you, can you talk a little bit about what I say we as in the peacebuilding movement, but really you who are there and dealing with it very up close and personal, are actually up against when we talk about this clear vision and the steps that we need to take to get there. 

 

Aziz Abu Sarah:

I want to comment on the concept of managing the conflict because it got so popular for a while and it was even popular among people in the in the left, people who are pro peace. It's like okay, we can't solve it. Let's manage it. Let's kind of maintain some kind of status quo. And what we learned is that the status quo never exists, it only goes down, it only gets worse. We might not feel it and understand that at the moment, it's getting worse. But that's what happens. And I think of so many people, politicians, weeks before October 7th, who are talking about how things have gotten so good, how everything is manageable. Even as we saw the rise of extremism, even as we saw coos and democratic values, even as we saw more violence in the West Bank, they were looking at everything and saying it's manageable. And it's not manageable. The only way to end conflict is through peace, anything alternative to that it's not a solution. And so that's the first thing I think we are against is the idea that it's all manageable. I get a little angry at people who say, oh, we are outraged at what happened. Because my question, we should have been outraged before. You don't have to wait until things get so horrible to be outraged. How many people as Maoz said, how many people have to die before we go, okay, this is it, we really have to take this seriously. And this is to us, the people, the people here in this, in this webinar, to Israelis and Palestinians, internationals, and to our leaders across the world. I really appreciated President Obama when he was asked about it. And he said, I think of the days when I was President and what I could have done that I didn't do. And I think we all have blood in our hands. Those were his words. And I think he unfortunately, he is right, many people. Indifference is probably one of our greatest enemies, people who feel there's nothing I can do. I'm only one person or people who feel this is manageable. People who think if we just we have a longer war, if we kill more people, those are the things we're going against. And what we are trying to say indifference is not an option. It's not we don't have the ability, the privilege to be indifferent. There is no way around that we know the price of the of this reality, and the price is more death. And we keep reading about it every day, we keep seeing horrific images every day. So it's not possible. People who say there is no hope. Maoz always likes to say we create hope. I don't always feel hopeless. But we always have an obligation to work harder, we always have an obligation to try our best to make sure something like what's happening now never happens again, that we come to an end of this, to a solution that we done, not let's just have a break for another five years, three years, 10 years. And then we start again, we have to get to the root causes. And the root cause is that we don't, we don't have peace. One of my favorite poems comes from Samih al-Qasim, he is a Palestinian Israeli citizenship who used to who used to be the editor of one of the main or largest Arab newspaper in Israel, Arabic newspaper in Israel. And he, he wrote this poem, he says, the day I'm killed, my killer, were rifled through my pockets, and he will find tickets, a ticket to peace, a traveling tickets, a ticket to peace, a ticket to the fields and the rain, and a ticket to the conscious of a human of the human kind. And then he goes I beg, my killer, do not waste such a thing. Do not ignore these tickets. Please take these tickets. Please. I beg you go traveling. And I think this is what we should reflect on right now. So many people have been killed, and we have those tickets in our hands, a ticket to our conscious to our humanity and a ticket to peace to a reality where we have fields we can go to. And I hope that everyone listening to us knows that what we're up against is people who don't want to do this journey, maybe afraid to do this journey, angry. And then those of us who are willing to use those tickets.

 

Maoz Inon:

Yes, thanks Aziz that is very strong, very powerful. I will try Maxxe to also go back to your questions about the status quo and managing it, managing the conflict. I will speak in from personal behavior. I invested most of my time in bridging and creating a shared society between Jews and Arabs within Israel. I was focusing 99% in that field because I also think it's very important. And that's what I see in my daily life. And for most Jewish Israelis, the West Bank, Gaza, is behind the mountains. Okay, it sounds well, we're really, really, really far away. And when I was on a four or five day seminar in the West Bank exactly two years ago, when I met many Palestinian activists, not necessarily peace activists, political activists, civil society activists and some peace activists, I came with two, two conclusions. One is that the occupation is Israel's most successful operation. It's sad, sad and crazy as it sounds. It's well, Israel investing its most resources, talents, budget, everything has been invested in the occupation of the West Bank, then it's been done in such an holistic and successful way that we Israel has been able to fragmentize the Palestinian society, not to even to village and village to village but to building to building. And there's no freedom of movement, no freedom of speech, no freedom of gathering. It's all blocked, even if it's not a physical wall. It's a mental wall. Each house is being surrounded by a mental wall. And so I said, this was the first conclusion and the second, that it's not sustainable. I cannot go live like this for much longer. But I never imagined in my worst nightmares, that it will be my parents to pay the price. Because I was fooled. I wanted to be fooled by the most invested barrier that humanity ever built, the deepest, the highest, most sophisticated electronic device, most invested perimeter, the wall that shaded my parents house, the wall between my parents community, Nativ Sara to Gaza, the writing was on the wall, the writing was on the wall, but we refuse to look, because we were fooled again and again, we were promised again and again, that we want the ultimate victory, that we deter Hamas, that we disarm them. That we revenge, we can I don't know if we'll have time to speak about revenge, but revenge is, is a symbol within unfortunately, and sadly within the State of Israel nowadays. And we were again and again being promised that Israel brought security and safety to our communities. And of course, it was a lie. Everyone knew it's a lie. Wall is not doing security, bombs, not gonna bring security offense. Parents who lost their children in Gaza, it's not blaming security. It's not. It's just gonna create more violence. And now we woke up, we woke up, and we see the writing was the wall. And if there are 143 people that now see the writing on the wall, it's a huge step forward, huge step forward. And now we need to act to take the walls down. And I have security and safety and equality and dignity.

 

Hadar Susskind:

So thank you, Maoz, I want to get exactly to that. So first of all, just when you were talking about, about the occupation, about the realities, you know, our colleagues are shown on Mokhov and talked about how, you know, the occupation has occupied Israel, right that the political apparatus and will and so much of those resources that you were talking about, of all different kinds that have gone into perpetrating the occupation for all these years, have in many ways overtaken the politics of Israel entirely. So that just resonated very strongly, but you were talking about now's the time to act. So I want to ask and a few people ask questions about this. You know, it's, it's, I mean, we're very grateful to have you here today and talking to us. This is an audience obviously, that is very open to your message and agrees, how are you talking to, and I'm asking you personally but all these sort of how do you think people in the peace movement should be talking to those who don't agree with us, to the right in Israel to the Hamas supporters, both in Israel and in Palestine and frankly, here in the US and just as a side note, every webinar we ever have, with Israelis or Palestinians, people ask the question, understandably, what should we here in the US do? And I don't think it's your job to tell us what here to do in the US. But like you both said earlier, we are living in the in the ripples and the reflections of what's happening there. And we are dealing with the implications of it here. So how are you talking to, you know, the folks who are not already on board with your messaging?

 

Maoz Inon:

Okay. First time approaching those that are with us, onboard on the journey, to amplify our voices. We must amplify the voices of peace. It's through social media, through family dinner, and Whatsapp group. So any platform in your, in your universities, working place, invite us for more webinars and on those platforms, as Aziz and I's TED Talk, amplify the voices of peace. This is crucial, crucial, and the second is to build legitimacy to peace and to us. And when I'm saying us, at least the four of us, I don't see all the others, to be the legitimacy as the leaders of the future. We are the leaders of the future. And we must be legitimacy, and this webinar enforces building our legitimacy, because it's the first time we're speaking with the Americans for Peace Now, so it's great. And we have done it with Pope Francis and on TED, and we do it a few times a day with different groups. And then it's your representatives. Okay, there is an election coming in, in the in the US. And I don't, and then talk to your representator, and ask them. How can you, will you promote peace between the river and the sea? How will you promote equality? How you will promote dignity and freedom? And then many, there are many Israeli politicians and other leaders that are coming to the US. Ask them what's your vision to Israel? What's your vision between the river and the sea? What's your vision to the future? Because for too long, we didn't force them to answer. So they have no vision. Unfortunately, all Israeli, current politician, their vision to the future is to go back to October 6th. This is the vision, they're offering nothing else. So we must force them to come out with a new vision. And this is why we are now working together to build a coalition to plan a roadmap and to execute. But it's not too difficult also, now, July 1 event will be broadcast in many communities throughout the US, it will have English subtitle, it's a free streaming. So you can do it with your family, you can do it in your community, you can do it in your synagogue, you can do it everywhere in the street, broadcast it, just to broadcast it. And then we can amplify it more and more and more. And then if we will see that there are half a million, million, 2 million views. It's also it start changing the discourse, and we need to change the discourse, because this peace is inevitable, peace will definitely happen. This is what Menachem Begin said on the historical visit of Anwar Sadat in 77. It will definitely happen. The question is, how many will need to sacrifice. How many?  And Aziz and I, we sacrificed enough. We don't want to sacrifice more personally, and we don't know others.

 

Aziz Abu Sarah:

Yeah, I'll only add. It's very hard to go and argue with people about ideology, political positions right now. And so we don't really do that. I think often when people ask us that question is, you know, you can go and say your wrong, and the lines here, and the history, and this is what happened. Educationally, it's important people learn but these kinds of arguments rarely have changed people's minds. What does work is giving people a vision. I think when people don't have a political vision when they don't see a way to peace, a way to independence, a way to equality, a way to safety away to security, then they will, they will go toward violence. I think the Hebrew Bible says, where there's no vision, people perish. It's from the book of Proverbs if my memory is right, and so vision is really important and that's what we trying to do is saying we want, when I talk to these people do two things. We share our stories, because we as humans connect much better with stories, get people to understand the price, you know, you want to be right. Sure be right. But you have to understand what's the cost of you being right and the cost. It's people like me and Maoz. And I want to look people in the eye and say, Are you okay with that? Are you okay with these sacrifices of people who living there, who are dealing with this reality, who are losing everything they have, because of this, I'm right. And then adding to telling our stories, connecting with people over it, understanding the cost, then we go into let's work together for a vision that doesn't include violence that we imagine a tomorrow that is better, that will bring the equality that will bring the security that will bring dignity to all of us. I think without a vision, there is no conversation to have with anybody.

 

Maxxe Albert-Deitch:

You've begun addressing this a little bit already, both of you. But as we're sitting here talking about the vision for the future, the plan for where all of this goes, can you guys get a little bit into what that vision is? What specifically this vision is that you've become such fierce advocates for?

 

Aziz Abu Sarah:

Maoz and I are running for office together, one of us will be president the other prime minister. No, I'm joking.

 

Maoz Inon:

He's joking, because our wives might be watching us. And we said we'll announce them together not publicly so? So, don't tell them please, guys, don't tell them. 

 

Aziz Abu Sarah:

Yeah, we'll keep this video secret Maoz, nobody will see it just us enough. I mean, there's different things. I can tell you, from my point of view. I really don't care so much about which exact solution is it going to be a confederacy, like land for all is promoting, which I'm a big fan of their work. And I like really the vision. Is it going to be more of the older two state solution? Is it going to be some kind of form of a federation? Is it even going to be a one state that is less what I'm worried about? I care that whatever we do, there is a political will for it, there is people behind it, and that we can make it happen. I think that and that whatever solution it is, it is bringing those things what we talked about that dignity, the security, the freedom, the equality to everyone between the river and the sea, and that it's, it actually can work. So whether, which solution exactly, or where the lines are going to be, honestly, I'm one of those and I've met, I've met a few Israeli politicians, a few Palestinian politicians who negotiated almost before and asked them about those questions. They've been very close before. But the issue why it never was signed, in my opinion, it's never because oh, well, you know, one meter more than one meter less. The issue has always been, he'll have either the wrong leader, you have the wrong people, the wrong American president, we'd like you need two, three of those always together, and we somehow get one or two and not the third. And so that's been our issue. And so we are working now and making sure as much as we can that we get the people behind the leaders hopefully behind it, the international support behind it, you need all the three and if you have only two, it becomes a bit a bit more challenging, I guess to do it. I know with the Parents Circle. I told Maoz recently that one of the stories I heard when the Parent Circle was founded, is that it was Itzhak Rabin, who called people who lost family members and said, I want to sign the peace agreement, but some people will be angry. And I need people like you to support me and say we want to work with you. He understood, he understood heavily the role of people like me and Maoz. And that's how the Parents Circle inception actually started. From this conversation of bereaved parents with Itzhak Rabin, right before they signed the peace agreement. So today we are, we need that we need the civil society, you need people like me and Maoz, you need the people on the ground to be supportive. But we also need leaders who are willing to go for it and to say it's time to do it. And if we have that political will, it's not about where the lines going to be. 

 

Maoz Inon:

Yeah. I want to give the spiritual answer if you won't mind. We don't have all the answers. We don't. But we know who does. The future. The future has hold the answer. And what Aziz and I are trying to do is to create a model of the future in the way we interact, in the way we partner, we are living the future. And this is why we are very effective. And we are energized by our actions. And this is why we keep doing it again and again few times a day in our fourth month, and we plan for the coming future is even more is at least as busy. And I want to give example, what is, how we practiced our equality of the future. So practicing to the TED talk, we said that we're going to, if we're going to use the same terms for describing how we lost our loved one. So if one, if we decide, it's murder so to say, my parents were murdered, and Aziz will say, my brother was murdered. And we decided to use the word, we lost a loved one, or our loved one was killed, but we are using, we are practicing equality. And sometimes it's not easy. It's not easy, and sometimes we've been attacked for it. But then we say, look, but we must practice equality. Because if there will be no equality in our relationship, in our terminology, in our phrasing, how can I then follow us? Because they will say it's a fraud. It's a fraud. So we are practicing it. And sometimes we don't agree. So we dialogue about it. And this is how we see the future. He does it. It's already proven just now in the Russia-Ukraine War, that even if there are two states, it's not promising peace. So what will, so let's say there will be two states between the river and the sea, and then they will wage war with each other? So what have we achieved in that? So it's the values, it's the values that matter. And then what we learned from Pope Francis, through a leader for peace, through a leader, is the important first of a conflict. If we want to evolve, if we want to rise, if we want to improve ourselves, there must be conflict. In a place there is no conflict. It's a dictatorship. There is an oppression and evasion of the others. And then it's for us humans to decide to solve our conflict through dialogue. And this is the view of the future look like. We're gonna dialogue about our relationship. How we're going to practice equality and security and safety and dignity. It's this, this is what, those are the values that matter. And again, if they border will go here or there, who cares? Who cares?

 

Hadar Susskind:

Thank you both for that. You know, Maoz, I think it's really interesting, because we have a similar thing. I mean, I think it's, it makes sense. And it's understandable for people to ask, what do you think the answer are? What's the solution? How do we do this? But I think it's important and really powerful to be able to say, we don't have all the answers. We don't need to have all the answers right now. Because so often, again, whether it's, you know, individual leaders or organizations, people come to you to say, well, if you don't know this, then what you're saying is illegitimate. And I reject to that, because no one can know what the answers are going to be yet. And I think what you two are doing and talking about of modeling that partnership, and working toward that better future, even if it is not, you know, defined exactly down to the the final period in the agreement, is what we need right now. You know, when we're at that last minute, and we're debating the last details, the one meter here, one meter there? Great, well all do that, well all have something to say about it. But that's not where we are right now. And what we desperately need is what you two are both calling for and doing, which is the action. We need to get past. Everybody says they want peace, right? They don't all mean the same thing by it. But everyone will tell you they want peace. And even the people who do mean the same thing. Even you know, here in the United States, in our political sphere, we have the you know, supporting a two state solution is pretty much the standard position. And yet whether you're talking about organizations, or elected officials, for so many people, you know, I say to them, that was a very brave position to take in 1995. But what are you doing about it now? Right, and for so many people, the answer is nothing. They're not doing anything to move us toward it, and they in fact, do a lot of things to often make it more difficult to get closer to that. So I just want to thank you for myself and on behalf of APN and all of us for the work you're doing for modeling this. I have a little tiny question that I admittedly, I'm just curious, when the two of you are just together doing your own work? What language do you speak to each other?

 

Maoz Inon:

I will try English. Aziz's Hebrew is pretty impressive. But I personally, I feel more comfortable in English.

 

Hadar Susskind:

But I mean, I, you know, I think everyone gets like what you were talking about, about the equality? One of you know, one of those pieces is an issue of language, which we know, in general on the ground and interactions between Israelis and Palestinians, you don't have that. Because, you know, that's part of the language of occupation, quite literally. 

 

Maoz Inon:

But, again, sorry for interrupting. 

 

Hadar Susskind:

Please.

 

Maoz Inon:

But it's not the language that's creating, or matter, it's not going to solve weather they spoke the same language. Okay, it's not the language. Yeah, it will be nice that we speak each other's language, but it I think it's nice to have. But it's not why we haven't make peace yet. Okay. It's will be great, really amazing. But it's part of shared acknowledgement and recognition. So we'll get there.

 

Hadar Susskind:

Yeah.

 

Maoz Inon:

But we'll get there, it's part of the journey. It's not a massive to start the journey with.

 

Hadar Susskind:

Great. All right. With that, Aziz and Maoz, I want to thank you both so much for being with us. And Maxxe, of course. And to all of you who joined us today. Thank you very much. We, I put the link to the TED talk in the chat, but we will share it again for everyone who was with us today. And we look forward to seeing you both when we come there next time. And hopefully when you are here sometime soon. 

 

Aziz Abu Sarah:

Yeah. And please feel free to reach out to us. Anybody. Both Maoz and I are easy to find online. So feel free to reach out to us, follow us, we in social media quite a bit. Um. yeah. Thank you. Thank you so much Hadar, Maxxe, Maoz. Good to see you.

 

Maoz Inon:

Thanks. And please watch the July 1 event, the first time more than 50 organizations, civil society organizations, coming together, working together, envisioning together the same vision of peace, and it's going to be really huge and a great event. So it's just the foundation of the peace, the people's peace process we're starting. 

 

Hadar Susskind:

Right. We will share that broadly with our list on social media with everyone. So thank you again. All right. Goodbye, everyone. We'll see you soon.

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