|Written by Ruby Ong|
NIF President Professor Naomi Chazan spent the weekend in Toronto with some group meetings, a talk at Temple Emanuel culminating with Israel From Within: The Dream Reborn.
NIF President Professor Naomi Chazan headlined this groundbreaking four-hour event that focused on inequality and the state of democracy in Israel. Nearly 500 people attended and venues in Montreal, Ottawa, London, Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria participated remotely.
“Taking the cue from similar developments such as Israel’s ‘Tent City’ and the more recent world-wide Occupy Wall Street movement, these events have sparked an interest in social justice issues” said Jay Brodbar, New Israel Fund of Canada’s Executive Director. “NIF has been working in the trenches on these critical issues for more than 30 years, and it seemed like the right time to have an important discussion on these topics now in Toronto,” he added.
Chazan received enthusiastic applause when she noted “In our sovereign state, we can never do to citizens and minorities in our country what was done to us when we were minorities elsewhere.”
“Empowering ourselves with knowledge on these topics and discussing them as a Canadian community is crucial,” said NIFC board member Joan Garson during her concluding remarks. “More awareness and understanding of the nuances and challenges involved in a long-held vision of Israel as both a homeland for Jews and a just and democratic society is crucial for Jews in Israel and abroad,” she added.
• Professor Derek Penslar of the University of Toronto gave a historical background to the unique issues of land policy in Israel that have implications for who can own land as well as on housing prices.
• The Israeli Jewish and Arab co-directors of the Israeli NGO Sikkuy focused in systemic inequalities between Jewish and Arab Israeli Citizens.
• New Israel Fund President and former Israeli Parliamentarian Professor Naomi Chazan discussed the latest challenges in Israel in building a democratic and socially just society.
• Israeli analyst Shira Herzog moderated a final panel including all the forum’s discussants.
Click HERE to Watch Video of Israel From Within.
The following are testimonials from guests who attended Israel From Within.
“Learnt a lot and felt a kinship in that big room that I often do not feel at other Jewish events in this city”
“I can't say enough great things about the opportunity of meeting Noami Chazan. To me she is the embodiment of the greatest Jewish, Israeli, and universal human values. Her life's work is an inspiration to people everywhere. It's a blessing that such a distinguished person is the president of NIF.”
“Hopefully this was an excellent beginning because clearly there is a strong community hunger for messages encouraging democracy, civil society and human rights in Israel.”
"It was moving on so many levels - the number of people attending, the quality of the speakers, the knowledge exhibited, the enthusiasm generated, etc., etc. Clearly, many worked very hard to make it happen, and I felt so fortunate to be there. I do hope you will continue to expand this educational effort - I think it is hugely important."
"...found it instructive and very heart warming. It was nice to be with such a large crowd."
"The speakers were excellent, offering us inspiration, knowledge, insight, compassion and challenges."
"What a terrific event! Great topic, great speakers, good questions and good discussion. Bravo NIF!!"
"Congratulations on an excellent gathering and list of presenters."
"I could have enjoyed a full day but half was a very good beginning."
"Thank you all for your humanity, wisdom and inspiration."