Finding Another Way: Shatil’s New Political Horizon Forum

18 April 2024
A meeting of the political horizon forum

Since October 7, Israel has had many plans for fighting battles, but no plans for building peace. The lack of hope and vision for an alternative to war has led many to feel that the only way they can to survive here is to live by the sword forever. More Israelis are identifying as right-wing than ever.

In response to this development, earlier this year Shatil launched the Political Horizon Forum, which builds on the work that NIF has already done to combine NIF and Shatil’s anti-occupation activities with proactive work to formulate and advance a sustainable vision for an end to the conflict.

Led by Shatil organizer for social change Tami Yakira, the Political Horizon Forum seeks to work from the grassroots up to rebuilding the Israeli peace camp using Shatil’s renowned convening model. In doing so, it aims to strengthen the organizations developing concrete plans for how Israelis and Palestinians can share this land in peace. The organizations in the forum range from veteran groups such as Peace Now and Ir Amim to newer organizations such as Standing Together and Mehazkim. The forum, comprising some 20 organizations, promotes cooperation and seeks to act as a multiplier force, enabling all the partners working in the field to share ideas for more effective action.

“Providing grants is not enough,” explained Tami. “Providing a physical opportunity for these organizations to meet regularly will create partnerships and creative ideas for building hope that would never happen otherwise.” She added that when each organization can see what the other is doing there is less duplication.

At the forum’s first meeting in February, members were offered a geopolitical overview of the October 7 attacks, their fallout, and participated in a mapping activity that laid out each organization’s plan in building a constituency for peace. The second meeting was led by head of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh, and founder of the Abraham Hostels and well-known peace activist, Maoz Inon, whose parents were both killed on October 7.

Speaking with great emotion, Maoz told the Forum: “I am ready to forgive the past, ready to forgive the present but am not ready to forgive the future.” After October 7, “I realized that I have to forgive Hamas. I had a much harder time forgiving the [Israeli] government. But now, I realize that I should forgive them too… I now focus all my energies into building a better tomorrow.”

Ayman Odeh said that “a day after October 7, I called Maoz. He cried on the phone. Amidst the tears of his grief, he told me, ‘I still believe in peace.’ That’s how, in ways that many find hard to understand, bereavement can bring out the truth from a man. I wish we will one day be able to say that through this Forum, peace was born.”

One of the most exciting projects within the Forum is a joint vision unit comprised of the Mitvim Institute and the Berl Katznelson Foundation. The unit is developing a detailed security-oriented plan for the day after the war. The preliminary version of this plan, The Israeli Initiative, has already been sent to hundreds of thousands of Israelis and presented at the Knesset.

When asked what gives her hope, Tami shared: “After the Yom Kippur War, Israel was in its darkest place. 2,600 Israelis had been killed. No one could imagine peace. Yet four years later, that is exactly what happened when Begin, Saadat and Carter signed the Camp David Agreement. If we dream that peace is possible, it can happen.”