On Friday March 25, 2011 – Peace Now hosted the most successful convention for all the left wing in Israel.
Over 700 people attended the convention, including activists from all over the country, from political parties, NGO”s and organizations alike.
Among the key speakers were: MK Amir Peretz, MK Daniel Ben Simon, Tzaly Reshef, Colette Avital, Ophir Pines-Paz, Gal Uchovsky, MK Ilan Gilon, MK Eitan Cabel, Eldad Yaniv, MK Dov Hanin, MK Haim Oron, Hilik Bar, Didi Remez, Hanna Asweid, Joshua Sobol, Yuli Tamir, MK Isaac Herzog, Michael Byrne, Mossi Raz, MK Nitzan Horowitz, Uzi Baram, Ron Kaufman, Ran Cohen, Talia Sasson, Nadia Hilu, Naomi Chazan
It was a first time that all the movements, organizations and parties from the left managed to sit together and hold discussions on the future, the messages and the options available to us.
The panels were organized in the shape of a round table so that both speakers and the audience would have both eye contact and be able to enter into the discourse.
People taking part in the discussions were not disguising their feelings about our failures, instead tried to accept collective responsibility and seek ways to move forward on different levels.
What was happening at the convention under the surface could mark a turning point in the Israeli left. Indeed the labor party came in full presence (except for Shelly Yehimovitz) since labor abandoned Netanyahu’s govt and Barak left, they searching to return to lead the peace camp again.
Labour was open to sit with people from Hadash, Sheik Jarrah etc to discuss what they have in common and how to cooperate.
All agreed that this convention will help us all to work more productively, to reignite that hunger for change amongst the people, to work in cooperation and to plan joint actions.
Some of the ideas that came out of the Convention:
1. Yehushua Sobol said that the right wing had stolen all the left’s ideas – but are not using them. They are actually lying to the Israeli public – promising two-states but doing the opposite – this is why we should expose and attack the right for misleading the public.
2. A new vision to the Israeli left and for Israel –Israeli public opinion has been won over, we’ve always been saying Two-States, and now the right wing (Livni, Olmert, even Netanyahu) is saying this too. In order to be able to lead the people, we need to inspire a whole new future for Israel – for that we need to talk about our VISION to how Israel should look like. We need to move forward. (Prof. Naomi Chazan and Michael Sfard.)
3. The First Israeli Congress – Prof. Dan Jacobson suggested, 100 years after the first Zionist Congress, we should arrange the first Israeli Congress where we will create a new paradigm and a new vision for Israel.
4. The Left is Alive – there were so many activists at the conference, that shared what they were doing daily: hundreds are taking part in activities in the campuses by the National-Left group, hundreds with the political party activities (Labor, Meretz,nHadash, the Green movement), hundreds at Peace Now activities, Sheikh Jarrah, the Geneva initiative and there are many many activities happening both educational and political. The amount is amazing. The problem is that we’re marginalized and only a little of what we do makes through to the mainstream media.
5. Collette Avital suggested using women activists to unite and support each other’s struggles, cross cutting sectors in society (Arab and Israeli women together.)
6. An idea to how collect all the different streams and groups of the left to one joint effort was raised by many and was well said by an Peace Now activist, a young scientist from the Weitzman Inst. of Rehovot, Shay Fleishon, calling for the establishment of the DEMOCRATIC CAMP. Instead of trying to prove how “patriotic” or National we are – let the right wing have the monopoly of being “more patriotic” we should use our power and call ourselves the “Democratic Camp” – here we can be Zionists, and patriotic and fight for the state we want to have – under the flag of democracy. We are fighting for Israel and for the Israel that we want, and we don’t need to be apologetic about it.
For photos and videos of the convention see our Facebook page.