|Theo Bikel (seated) with Harold Shapiro & Zehava Galon (Oct. ’12)|
The board chair of Partners for Progressive Israel, Theodore Bikel (the internationally-acclaimed folk singer and actor) sent in these remarks that were read at our event in New York last month (April 2) celebrating Harold Shapiro’s 85 years of life and service. On May 19, Harold was reelected as president of Partners, succeeding Dina Charnin.
… One might argue that in this time when Israel is facing the mundane business of governing amidst harrowing concerns about security, talking of Zionist ideals and dreams is no more than an exercise in nostalgia.Yet speak of the dream we must …We on the left are no less imbued with the transcendent importance of Israel’s birth and existence. To us a world without Israel is an unthinkable world. While there are often sharp disagreements we
have with others in the community about policy and directions for the future, let me be perfectly clear about one thing: We of the peace movement are as devoted to the welfare and safety of Israel as anyone could possibly be. Yet our passion for Israel’s well-being is matched in equal measure by our passion for justice; social justice and equal rights for all who inhabit the land.To be sure, we all want peace – or at least we say we do. But definitions of ‘peace’ vary. Some would only entertain a notion of peace that entails a vanquished adversary suing for peace and a victor dictating the terms. Others set the bar so high that peace becomes unattainable, an illusion.We are Americans; our bodies are not on the line and political decisions about the country can by rights only be made by Israelis. But we are Jews; and when the moral underpinning of the state we love is endangered then it is not only Israel’s soul that is in peril but our soul as well.And so, we have come together once more to reaffirm our devotion to the cause of peace and to support lawmakers and citizens of Israel whose ideals we share.
… There is no one I know who has more consistently been on the side of the angels than Harold Shapiro. He does it with quiet determination, with Southern politeness but firmly and unwaveringly. His counsel is appreciated, listened to, even by those whose ideologies are widely different from ours. He is seen and appreciated for what he so obviously is – an honorable man. And when he gives material support – which he does so generously – it is clear that what motivates him is not tsedakahbut tsedek, not a sense of charity but a sense of justice.Partners for Progressive Israel … [is] an important voice for sanity and levelheadedness in a world that has a short supply of both. Harold made sure that the road traveled was smoother, and the obstacles more easily overcome. And he did all this quietly, expecting no thanks other than knowing that he helped the cause he believes in.Our friend – my friend – Harold Shapiro is being honored today. No one deserves it more.