Opposites tackle peace puzzle

Uri Zaki will speak at Limmud-Oz this Queen’s Birthday long weekend.

IT’S sure to be one of the most fascinating Limmud-Oz discussions about the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, as two high profile Israeli guests from opposite sides of the political spectrum – Uri Zaki and Nerya Meir – tackle the question ‘One State or Two States?’

But will they be able to find common ground at the 5pm session on June 11 this long weekend at the University of NSW? 

Zaki is the president of the left wing Israeli political party Meretz’s Governing Assembly and between 2010 and 2013 was director of the US branch of human rights organisation B’Tselem.

He told The AJN from Tel Aviv last week he sees two states as “the only solution which assures the continuation of the Zionist vision of Israel as a democratic Jewish homeland”.

“The main threat on the viability of it is the ever-expanding settlement enterprise,” Zaki claimed.

“The current situation – in which under Israel’s direct control from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean there are different sets of rights and liberties to different groups – is no solution.”

While recognising the Palestinian leadership’s history of supporting violence, Zaki said the Palestinian Authority has declared a commitment to solving the conflict through political negotiation “and an Israeli leadership which doesn’t test this commitment is historically negligent”.

He said a key message to the Limmud-Oz audience will be to “fight against those who portray Israel as a devil and bring in their disguised anti-Semitic tendencies, but also don’t say Amen after every Israeli bad policy – [because] you are not really helping Israel in that way”.

Meir is currently the head of World Betar, he resides in the West Bank settlement of Rachelim, serves as an IDF officer and is a board member of the World Zionist Organisation, representing World Likud.

An active supporter of Gift of Life, Meir donated one of his kidneys to his ill brother in 2015.

In an opinion piece for The Jerusalem Post in 2015, Meir wrote “among the political left there are those who in the name of Zionism choose to accept every international claim in the hope of living in peace. [Joseph] Trumpeldor could never have imagined that one day it would be fellow Zionists telling him ‘you don’t belong in this land’.”

With more than 130 talks, workshops, interviews and performances, plus activities for the kids, Limmud- Oz offers something for everyone.

For more information on Limmud-Oz, visit www.shalom.edu.au.

SHANE DESIATNIK