We present summaries below of Meretz USA’s two most recent events, both held at Beit Shalom in New York. On Tuesday, October 2nd, we held a luncheon with Meretz party Member of Knesset Avshalom (aka ‘Abu’) Vilan, who spoke about the prospects for the peace summit coming up in November and about the movement he founded to bring settlers back inside the Green Line. And on Monday, September 24th, “Promises,” third in the Meretz USA’s film series, was screened, followed by a discussion moderated by Prof. Leonard Grob, co-chair of JANIP and an executive committee member of Meretz USA.
Assessing the Upcoming Conference with MK Abu Vilan
MK Vilan began by explaining that the Israeli government intends to put together, before the November peace summit, a document of principles that will envision a final status agreement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He remarked that this step will not be as difficult as determining the time frame for reaching final status or how to get there.
MK Vilan also addressed the ways in which an agreement could affect Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s governing coalition. He noted that Olmert fears that if he gives up too much to the Palestinians, the coalition may fall apart as Shas, the ultra-Orthodox Sephardic party, and Yisrael Beiteinu, the right-wing party led by Avigdor Lieberman, threaten to leave the government. But MK Vilan explained that he believes neither party would follow through. Shas has too much to lose by leaving; and, by participating in the government, Lieberman is showing his eagerness to appear more mainstream.
Focusing on the rivalry between Fatah and Hamas, MK Vilan explained that Hamas will likely try to derail the peace process to prevent Fatah from reaping the rewards of such a success. As a result, the Egyptians and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) are pushing Israel to be tougher on Hamas. … To read the full summary, click here.
“Promises”: Part of Meretz USA Film Series
On Monday, September 24th, 2007, Meretz USA screened “Promises,” the story of seven Israeli and Palestinian children from a Palestinian refugee camp, from an Israeli settlement, and from Jerusalem. The documentary – the creation of directors B.Z. Goldberg, Justine Shapiro and Carlos Bolado – follows these children’s lives over several years in the late 1990s, a time when the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace were better, and reveals both their feelings about “the other” and about the conflict. Although each child expresses wariness over meeting their Israeli or Palestinian counterparts, several of them are eventually caught up by their curiosity. Two Israeli twins, Yarko and Daniel, end up traveling to the Jenin Refugee Camp, where they laugh and play with their new Palestinian friends.
Despite this “promising” scene, the film ends on a down note. … To read the full summary, click here.