My Report on PPI’s Israel Symposium

My Report on PPI’s Israel Symposium

One week since returning from Israel and Palestine and attending the PPI (formerly Meretz USA) Israel Symposium.  I am still suffering from jet lag and coming back to a painted apt. which is now totally chaotic.  I will be brief, since things keep changing daily, so there is no point in writing a long piece. 
We met with one of the negotiators, Mohammad Shtayyeh, who was dapper, smart and open.  At that point, which was almost 2 weeks ago, he was not too optimistic.   In fact, today’s HaAretz, announces the resignation of the two negotiators:

Let me describe some of the other highlights.  Our first speaker was former MK Naomi Chazan, past president of the New Israel Fund, who is noted for her cogent and organized analyses.   One comment she made relates to the present recess (or breakdown) in the negotiations.   LINKAGE, she said — remember that concept because this is what obtains in the Iran negotiations and the Israel-Palestine negotiations.   And this has been confirmed in the press reports after our meeting with Chazan, there is a linkage between negotiations with Iran, and I/P negotiations.  Perhaps there is some linkage between the breakdown of the Iran negotiations and the breakdown on the I/P negotiations.   Could there also be some LINKAGE between France and Israel?  Are they communicating again (like old times)?

What back channel communications are taking place? Something is going on: First Natanyahu’s gov’t. announces 5,000 units will be added to settlements, and then he withdraws it.  Games are being played.

But meanwhile, “Hamatzav” (the situation) remains stable: Tel Aviv is flourishing, as is Ramallah.  And even more so 6 miles from Ramallah where  we visited the new upcoming city of Rawabi (means hills). Almost 1/3 is completed.   Sparkling and beautiful, this city on the hill is the brainchild of  Bashar Masri, the American/Palestinian billionaire developer, who is creating an obstacle to Israeli occupation by making facts on the ground.   Clearly it is for the new Palestinian middle class.  Yes, there is a thriving, intelligent, westernized middle class.   What I saw of Rawabi is mind boggling.   The main hall looks like a scene from a science fiction film, off to the side, is a smaller room where we saw a PR short film about future life there, it continued the science fiction feel of beautiful people in large expansive spaces.  Yes, this too is Palestine.   (For more on Rawabi and Masri:
At this point it seems that both Israelis and Palestinians have learned how to live with “Hamatzav” while all the NGOs try to chip away at injustice and inequality.   These two people co-exist, with the Israelis carrying on their start-up Nation, making good films, building more sky scrapers,  at the same time they are trying to get the Bedouins into one area, some would call it a Reservation (the Knesset is debating the Prower bill).  We visited the Bedouins in the Negev, who go on without water, electricity, and are in great misery.  The government argues that if they move they will get water, electricity, and even more.
Another place visited by the Symposium was Kfar Qara in the Triangle.   We had lunch in a beautiful restaurant owned by a 28 year old mother of two, who runs the restaurant.  Above the restaurant is a movie house.  She sends her children to a bi-lingual school where the kids learn Hebrew and English.  And they get high national scores.  But listen to this, we had lunch with an Arab-Israeli Judge who had been Israel’s Counsel General in Atlanta, Georgia.  He told us that Kfar Qara had the highest rate of university graduates in the professions in all of  Israel.  We tried to find out why this is so, but the only reason, we were told, is that the education system in Kfar Qara is good and that the parents encourage their children.  I am sure there is more to this story and I hope anyone reading this who knows will write me.  (Last night I asked a Palestinian Israeli why this was so and he said, Kfar Qara is very rich.)
I will try to write more.  Others on the Symposium are typing their notes and maybe they will share more of this remarkable Symposium.  We had amazing access to Members of the Knesset,
top journalists, NGO representatives, and of course, Zehava Galon, the head of the Meretz party, and the recently elected Meretz MKs, including Israeli Palestinian Isawi Frej. 
Finally, my wrap-up sentence is life goes on in both Israel and Palestine.   The Israelis build their skyscrapers in Tel Aviv, and the Palestinians are building in Ramallah and Rawabi.  Modernization spreads, bringing clean and beautiful apartments to the hills near Ramallah, but nearby in the small villages on the West Bank Palestinian villagers can’t get to their farmlands and more.  Within Green Line Israel, the government wants to move the Bedouins into a kind of reservation where they will have water and electricity; meanwhile the Bedouins continue to exist in abject poverty.
By | 2013-11-15T17:59:00-05:00 November 15th, 2013|Blog, Symposium|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Leona james November 18, 2013 at 12:08 pm - Reply

    These articles and blogs are genuinely sufficiency for me for a day.

Leave A Comment