NIF Co-Sponsors Haaretz Israel Democracy Conference
Leading players in Israeli politics – including President Rivlin and the heads of several major political parties – attended Haaretz’s Democracy Conference. The New Israel Fund was a co-sponsor of the event.
At the sold-out conference, 1,500 people crammed into the large convention hall at the Tel Aviv port to watch politicians and intellectuals discuss the most contentious and pressing issues in Israel. Conference attendees not only filled the auditorium seats, but people stood along the walls and squeezed together in the back as well.
President Rivlin spoke about how Israeli Arabs are an inseparable part of the state of Israel. Labor leaders Herzog and Livni decried the current state of Israeli democracy and called for a change. Ayman Odeh, leader of the newly formed united Arab list, declared his party the “Democratic Camp” in contrast to the National and Zionist Camps of the right and left.
Danny Dayan, former head of the settlers’ Yesha Council, was there as well debating whether a state can be both Jewish and democratic with former Justice Minister Yossi Beilin and Arab politician Ahmed Tibi. Shimon Riklin, from the Jewish Home party, participated in the panel, “Is the Right Still Liberal?” And American peace negotiator Dennis Ross offered his thoughts on the current state of Israeli-American and Israeli-European relations.
NIF was lauded over the course of the day, receiving applause and even several standing ovations. Herzog, appearing directly after NIF Executive Director in Israel Rachel Liel, said about the New Israel Fund: “It’s an organisation I’ve known well for many years and it is a gift to the people of Israel”. Zehava Gal-On, the leader of Meretz, said “I am proud to be here at the Haaretz Conference sponsored by the New Israel Fund.”