Courier for Peace

Posted Posted in News
Gail Pressberg
In 1977, Gail Pressberg – at great risk – served as a secret courier carrying messages between an Israeli Knesset (Parliament) member in Israel, and a Palestinian leader living in Paris who was an advisor to Palestinian Liberation Organization chair Yasser Arafat. The secret (and illegal) messages delivered by Pressberg explored the “possibility of Israeli Zionists talking to PLO nationalists.” The Palestinian was Dr. Issam Sartawi, Arafat’s liaison to the Israeli peace movement and an advocate of recognition of Israel.  The Knesset member was Matiyahu “Matti” Peled, a leader of the Israeli peace movement.  Pressberg believes that the dialogue she helped facilitate was key in the lead up to the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords.  Read Pressberg’s story here >

Bucking the Mainstream

Posted Posted in News
Robert Lifton
Robert K. Lifton
In September 1987, the Governing Council of the American Jewish Congress, then one of the country’s preeminent mainstream Jewish organizations, adopted a “Resolution on the Middle East Peace Process.”  The statement said, ”Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza are perceived as hostile occupiers, and continued Israeli rule of a resentful Arab population must lead to repressive measures that, in the long run, cannot but distort and corrupt the values we associate with a Jewish state.” The resolution also spoke to demographic concerns. Rapid Arab population growth would eventually lead Greater Israel to have “to chose between becoming a non-Jewish state or a nondemocratic state. Neither choice is acceptable.” The group believed that it was both ”necessary and appropriate” to take a public position, because the Israeli Government itself ”is divided and deadlocked over how to approach the peace process.” Robert K. Lifton recounts the six years (1988 – 1993) when he served as Congress president that the group publicly advocated for the implementation of the positions espoused in the resolution by  endorsing Israel’s separation from the Occupied Territories, while remaining at the center of American Jewish life. Read Lifton’s story here >