Israeli, Palestinian diplomats in conversation

ISRAELI ambassador Mark Sofer will be in conversation with the Head of the General Delegation of Palestine Izzat Abdulhadi this Sunday, in what Emanuel Synagogue’s Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins calls an “historic opportunity” for the community.

Rabbi Kamins will moderate the discussion, to be held at the shule from 1pm to 3pm.

“For people to work out problems they actually have to speak respectfully and listen attentively to each other,” Rabbi Kamins said. 

“That means to truly hear each other’s perspectives and stories.”

The discussion will take place under Chatham House rules with no media present.

Rabbi Kamins said he hoped this would allow for a more frank discussion.

“The hope is that in that kind of more intimate setting, they will really be able to be in conversation about some of the difficult issues facing each of them as leaders of their people,” he said.

He noted the timing of the conversation is close to Yom Ha’atzmaut.

“May is the month of Yom Ha’atzmaut but in the back of my mind I know that Palestinians think of it as the Nakba, but you even start to talk about that and it seems to get explosive,” he said.

“We want people to be in conversation and to listen and hear and let the community listen and hear.”

He added, “Just within the Jewish community, there is so much difference of opinion as to what Israel is and how to resolve the conflicts within.

“I’ve been running a program every Monday morning called ‘Conversations About Israel’ and it’s been amazing over the years to see people from the far-left and the hard-right be able to sit and speak and listen to each other – not always agree – but at least begin to listen to each other and think together about the problems, and even at times, solutions.”

The event is at Emanuel Synagogue on Sunday, May 5 from 1pm-3pm. Bookings essential at by noon on Friday, May 3. Emanuel members and under 18: free (donations welcome), Non-members $25.