By: Naftali Raz, Educator and Tour Guide, coordinator of MASAD – Social-Democratic Center
In the face of the acid exaggerations of the radical left, the muted reactions of the media and pressures from the right wing – we continue to voice the support of the silent majority.
U.S. President Barack Obama came to Israel (a birthday gift…to my dear wife – Naomi…) on March 20, 2013. Among government members, the media and even in the peace camp – there was considerable skepticism. "Obama is a lame duck, the Palestinians do not want to go back to the negotiation table – and, in any event, given the influence of the settlers and their lobby in the Knesset there is no chance for even the smallest move toward an agreement." We, members of the secretariat of MASAD (The social democratic coalition) – organized ads in the media to welcome the president to our region. We petitioned him and regional leaders to "favorably consider the Arab Peace Initiative". Our petition was signed by hundreds of well known personalities and social activists. http://www.yozmatshalom.info/welcome-obama.html . We published these ads – financed by their signatories – in "Haaretz", "Israel Hayom" (a daily funded by a well known "Likud" party sympathizer!), Vesti and the Jerusalem Post. We emphasized that the signatories – senior military officers (res.), Israel Prize laureates, among the best writers in Israel, Middle East experts, economists, lawyers and social activists from the periphery – are not "regular left-wing activists", but people of all walks of life – the "backbone of Israeli society."
In his speech at the Jerusalem Convention Center President Obama stunned those who listened to him. He refused to address the Knesset, insisting instead on speaking to thousands of Israeli students. The central message of his speech was that politicians will address problematic issues and initiatives only under the pressure of public opinion.
We continue to give a voice to public opinion – to the silent majority that supports "two states for two peoples".
Following Obama's visit, a collaboration between twenty major, Zionist, peace organizations was instituted – the "Peace and Security Council", the "Geneva Initiative", "Peace Now", "Israel Initiative", MASAD, "One Voice", "AJEEC – Negev Institute" and more. Our friend Colonel (res.) Shaul Arieli, a member of the boards of both the "Peace and Security Council" and the "Geneva Initiative", has since hosted – around a big desk in his office in Tel Aviv – by-weekly coordination meetings of heads of peace organizations .
"The first stroke" of the collaboration was a conference organized by MASAD on April 23, 2013 in Tel Aviv, titled "The Battle for the Declaration of Independence – How?". Under the three banners of MASAD – peace, social justice and democracy – we formulated with 130 participants gathered in six thematic workshops, a number of proposals for action. This excellent conference opened the way for the initiative of a petition demanding that the "Declaration of Independence" be adopted as a "Knesset Fundamental Law". http://www.atzuma.co.il/megilathaatsmaut . It led to the formulation of ads in support of peace talks, ads that have been posted in the media since and up to this day. An invitation to visit Shfar'am on the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr was passed on to the participants during the conference. That visit became a show of support for Jewish-Arab peace talks. This successful visit was covered in the morning news by the "Voice of Israel" in Arabic, and by the Social TV web-magazine.
When the peace talks started in Washington, we – MASAD, "One Voice" and "AJEEC – Negev Institute "- set up a "peace tent" (in Hebrew "Sukkah") near the Prime Minister's residence. During the four days that “Sukkah" was active we collected many additional signatures and financial contributions for the publication of petitions in support of peace talks. Thus, recently for the first time we were able to publish a full page ad in "Haaretz", and a day later in the most expensive newspaper in the country, "Yediot Aharonot".
In the face of radical left acid exaggerations, muted reactions of the media and pressures from the right wing – we continue to voice the support of the silent majority.
Meanwhile MASAD has officially become a full-fledged, registered, association. If you wish to become a member then please contact us at: [email protected]
On Saturday night, November 11, 2013, we will remind the world of Yitzhak Rabin's political legacy – and the cause of his death! – during a mass rally scheduled on Rabin Square in Tel Aviv by the "November Four Association" led by our friend Chemi Sal – with the support of all peace organizations.
Two and a half months later, early in 2014, – stand by for many surprises we, the peace organizations, organize in collaboration with unexpected partners (themselves a surprise) in the framework of a giant Congress for Peace! Details – forthcoming!
MASAD – Social-Democratic Coalition