|Assembled on last day (photo by Hillel Schenker)|
There is still much to report on our organization’s recent Israel Symposium. Here’s another installment:
During our visit to the Knesset on Oct. 22, we heard from Moshe (Boogie) Ya’alon, a former armed forces chief of staff who is the Likud cabinet minister on strategic issues. He sees the hand of Iran as omnipresent in global terrorism, even in alliances with Jihadist Sunni elements, including al Qaeda (what most experts regard as unlikely). And he regards the Arab Spring upheavals as more of a threat than an opportunity.
We also had reason to disagree with Benny Begin, the son of the late prime minister Menachem Begin, known for a somewhat liberal view on individual rights for Arabs, but hardline on peace issues and in opposing a Palestinian state. Similarly, we were almost struck dumb the next day in Tel Aviv by Danny Dayan, the leader of Yesha, the settlers council, for justifying unlimited settlement expansion.
Later in the week, we visited the Levinsky Soup Kitchen in a South Tel Aviv park, where hundreds of African refugees assemble and sleep each night. We spoke with Yigal Shtayim, who has been instrumental in a remarkable effort to assist these refugees from Eritrea and Sudan, via the spontaneous generosity of hundreds of Israelis who have organized a system for keeping them fed and providing them with books, clothes and other help; but their situation is still not good and their future uncertain. Returning from our visit to Beersheva the next day, we packed a huge amount of leftovers from our buffet lunch there, to deliver to those people stranded in the park. (The plight of these refugees was depicted in a NY Times article, Nov. 1, a few days after we visited there.)
|Theo Bikel and Harold Shapiro with Zehava Gal-on.|
On our final day, the morning of Oct. 27, the group met in our Tel Aviv hotel with Meretz chair Zehava Gal-on, speaking of her party’s efforts in the coming election (Jan. 22) and its struggle against the newly announced “Bieberman” ticket, the joint parliamentary list of Bibi Netanyahu’s Likud and Avigdor Lieberman’s ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party.
(Photos courtesy of Hillel Schenker, our longtime chaver, who joined us in our meeting with Zehava.)