No Boycotts of the Israel Conference on Peace

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The Haaretz-NIF peace conference held in early June in Tel Aviv brought the NIF to a new level of recognition in Israel with leaders from across the political spectrum, including the Jewish Home Party, agreeing to speak and ignoring calls to boycott the event.

The speeches, talks, and panels for 1,500 participants included a debate among contenders in the upcoming primaries for the Labor Party, a discussion on what Israel will look like if it annexes all of the occupied territories, and a look at the effects of Donald Trump’s trip to the region.

Speakers included President Ruby Rivlin, NIF Board Chair Talia Sasson, Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, Hatnuah Party leader Tzipi Livni, United Torah Judaism Party leader Moshe Gafni, and Meretz leader Zehava Galon.

In response to the conference, Israel Hayom commentator (and Netanyahu consultant) Dror Eydar said that the NIF is like a “gas station” that fuels the entire liberal camp in Israel. Of all the speakers that he could have chosen to target at the conference, he singled out NIF’s chair, Talia Sasson.

“The ancient institution that came together yesterday under the wings of the New Israel Fund and Haaretz newspaper continues to hold on to the peace paradigm that has collapsed,” Eydar wrote.

Sasson noted at the end of her remarks that the participation of Bennet and two other Jewish Home Party members gave the NIF new credence and recognition. She called on Israelis to operate from the grassroots level to oppose the policies of the current government.

“Everything is in our hands. Even now. If civil society and its organizations unite and present clear positions and red lines, they will stop the government’s rampage. If we who love the State of Israel, who seek to banish the evil spirit from our country — the hatred and the fear that this government spreads in every place — if we, who want to restore part of the good that this country had, will join together, nobody can stop us.”

June 2017