Meretz USA’s president Lawrence I. Lerner, executive director Charney Bromberg, past president Lilly Rivlin, board member Shirley Rausher, and Ralph Seliger joined with staff and activists of the Union of Progressive Zionists, Americans for Peace Now, Brit Tzedek V’Shalom, Ameinu, Hashomer Hatzair and Habonim-Dror to rally for peace in Annapolis, Maryland. Charney Bromberg was among those who addressed the rally jointly sponsored by this coalition of pro-Israel peace groups at St. Anne’s Church in downtown Annapolis, across from the Maryland governor’s official residence.
Other speakers included two friends from Israel, Mossi Raz, a former Meretz Member of Knesset and director of Israel’s Peace Now, and Gavri Bargil, co-director of Israel’s Kibbutz Movement and a former Shaliach (Zionist emissary) headquartered in New York. In attendance, cheering us on, was Nidal Fuqaha, a Ramallah-based Palestinian who is executive director of the Geneva Initiative.
Collectively, this progressive Zionist coalition was among the largest groups making its presence known in Annapolis. As we strolled through this charming town toward the gates of the United States Naval Academy where the conference was staged, we found the only possibly bigger bunch— that of the Neturei Karta, an oddball Chasidic sect demonstrating against Israel’s very existence. Also a sizeable group– almost identical in attire with the Neturei Karta– was another band of ultra-Orthodox Jews demonstrating against the conference on the premise that West Bank territory is Israel’s sacred real estate. A smaller group of less visibly religious Jews opposed the conference on the grounds that it was planning to surrender territory to Arab terrorists; they stood with their signs in close proximity to an even smaller bunch of anti-Israel demonstrators (apparently Arabs and a few sympathizers).
Sadly, ours was apparently the only pro-negotiations, pro-peace demonstration, but at least there was no massive anti-peace mobilization. I’m including links here to the public remarks at Annapolis by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and
Pres. George W. Bush.
Click here for a thumbs-down view of the conference from the ever-skeptical Ami Isseroff
but he usefully includes the joint statement signed onto by Israel and the PLO, pledging “vigorous, ongoing and continuous negotiations and … every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008.”
Charney Bromberg and Ofer Gutman (a World Zionist Organization official who is a member of Meretz) are two hopeful voices recorded as against some negative remarks registered at the Mideast Youth website.