New York, NY: More than 1,000 Americans, Israelis, and Palestinians participated in the first-ever HaaretzQ with New Israel Fund Conference on December 13 in New York, doubling the number of expected attendees. Hundreds were left on the waiting list, unable to attend.
Featuring a welcoming video from President Barack Obama and a keynote speech by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, the conference included speakers representing a broad swath of the Israeli and American progressive communities, as well as representatives of the PLO. Members of Knesset Tzipi Livni and Ayman Odeh, as well as PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat, addressed an overflowing ballroom, emphasizing in different ways the dangers posed by current Israeli policies to Israeli democracy and to the prospect for an eventual resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict. UN Ambassador Samantha Power also represented the Obama Administration, posing challenging questions to both the Israeli and the Palestinian leaderships about the risks inherent in failing to act to make a two-state solution the reality.
The conference was organized as a partnership between Haaretz, Israel’s leading daily newspaper, and the U.S.-based New Israel Fund, the leading organization advancing democracy and equality for all Israelis.
“The conference exceeded even our highest expectations,” said New Israel Fund CEO Daniel Sokatch. “Our partnership with Haaretz, the level of analysis and discussion about Israel’s toughest issues, and the overwhelming interest from Americans around the country confirmed our belief that there needs to be a much stronger bridge between Israeli and American progressives.
“Clearly, there is a hunger among American Jews to engage with Israel in a meaningful way, to connect to Israelis who don’t share the hardline views that we hear too often from those in power in Israel, and to figure out what we can do together to help Israel live up to the values of a humanist, liberal and democratic Jewish homeland.
“The participation of Presidents Obama and Rivlin signifies how important the community that exists around Haaretz and NIF are for the leaders of America and Israel. We are grateful for their participation.”