On Sunday April 10, Admiral (retired) Ami Ayalon began a five-day tour to promote The People’s Voice Initiative. This tour, arranged by Ameinu, included public presentations, private meetings, media interviews and fundraising.
Among the proposals for Israeli-Palestinian peace, The People’s Voice Initiative is unique because it is a grassroots effort aimed at giving the Israeli and Palestinian leaders the support needed to make peace. Signed by Ami Ayalon as the primary Israeli negotiator and Sari Nussibeh as the primary Palestinian negotiator on July 27, 2002, over 420,000 individual Israelis and Palestinians have added their names this initiative as step toward peace.
This initiative sets forth a shared vision of the future based on six main points:
? Two states for the two peoples;
? The borders will be based on the June 4, 1967 borders, with mutually agreed territorial swap;
? Jerusalem will be the capital of both states. The Arab neighborhoods will be under Palestinian sovereignty, Jewish neighborhoods under Israeli sovereignty, and the holy basin under no sovereignty;
? Palestinian refugees will return only to Palestine. Jews will return only to Israel;
? The Palestinian state will be demilitarized; and
? An end of conflict.
For more information about The People’s Voice Initiative, see http://www.mifkad.org.il/en/
Ameinu sponsored Admiral Ayalon’s tour because we endorse the framework set forth in this initiative and the grassroots approach that it represents.
Ami Ayalon, a decorated career naval officer, is a compelling peace advocate. Head of the Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet) for the four years following Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin?s assassination, Admiral Ayalon understands the security threats facing Israel and the methods available to meet those threats. His vision clearly compels others with similar knowledge: four former heads of the Shin Bet have also signed is initiative.
Some of the highlights of the tour included:
? A nationwide conference call, briefing Ameinu leadership about the initiative;
? Public presentations at three synagogues (Temple Emmanuel in Westfield, NJ; Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, MD and The Society for the Advancement of Judaism in Manhattan) and at the Israel Update Program at the San Francisco Jewish Community Center;
? A presentation at Stanford University, sponsored by The Center on Conflict and Negotiation, The Israeli Student Organization, and the Israel Center;
? Presentations to public policy groups, including The Council on Foreign Affairs and The Middle East Institute (see report at http://www.mideasti.org/articles/doc361.html);
? Meetings with US government officials in the White House and at the National Security Council;
? Meetings with national Jewish leadership, including representatives of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations;
? A meeting with local Jewish leadership, sponsored by the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco
? Interviews with several journalists such as Nora Boustany of the Washington Post (see the full article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A48199-2005Apr12.html)
People from a wide variety of backgrounds and representing a full range of viewpoints attended Admiral Ayalon’s presentations. For example, American Jews, Israelis, Arab Americans and Palestinians all attended the event at Stanford University. At the Conference of Presidents, Ami engaged in dialogue with supporters of the settlers’ movement as well as with more mainstream representatives of the Jewish community. The Adat Shalom event drew a particularly wide age spectrum, from long time Labor Zionists, now in their late 70’s and 80’s to high school members of Zionist youth groups. This audience included members of a local Unitarian peace committee and members of a local Presbyterian church as well as Jews and Muslims from the US, Israel and Palestine.
Not only did these events provide many people with the opportunity to learn about an important peace initiative from a knowledgeable and charismatic speaker, the events also inspired some members of the audience to think about how this initiative can be supported in the United States. As projects develop, we will try to keep Ameinu friends and members up to date.