It was a full-house in the auditorium of the Hecht Museum of Haifa University in Israel where political commentators, analysts and academics from different parts of the world gathered last January, at the cusp of the new year, to discuss the future of left wing parties in Israel, Europe and the US.
“What is left of the Left?” asked a two-day conference jointly organized by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the Haifa Center for German and European Studies and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
In times of challenges to a peaceful and just resolution of security issues, we reached out to some of the panellists contributing to a workshop on progressive approaches to conflicts in turbulent times, one among the five topics that were addressed during the conference in Haifa.
At the cusp of the new year, we asked for answers to our question:
What peace or security conflict marked the past period, what crucial challenge remains and what kind of a change for the future can a social-democratic approach bring?
Jeffrey Laurenti, Political Commentator, [past] Director of Policy Studies at The Century Foundation
“The brightest spot over the past year has been the steady progress on normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba, whose enmity put the entire planet in danger of nuclear war 55 years ago. It will be hard for the incoming right-wing regime in Washington to reverse this process. On the other hand, the ferocious civil war in Syria and accelerating Israeli colonization of Palestinian territories have intensified. Assad’s sanguinary success in Aleppo may lead to “peace,” but certainly not justice. Only a different political constellation in Israel can reverse the disastrous momentum away from Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Dr. Nimrod Goren, Director, “Mitvim - Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies”
“At the dawn of the new year, the Israeli-Palestinian challenge is a key one for Israel to address, in order to enjoy a fresh start among the nations and to promote a future of peace, security, and prosperity for itself and the region. Israel is paying heavy prices due to the stalled peace process and its settlement policies. These include the two-state solution becoming more difficult to reach, increased tensions with allies in the West, and missing an historical opportunity for normal ties with Arab countries. To bring about change, Israel should adopt the progressive foreign policy paradigm devised by the Mitvim Institute, in cooperation with FES – a pro-peace, multi-regional, outward-looking, modern and inclusive foreign policy.”
Werner Puschra, Resident Director, FES Israel Office
“The most conflict-prone region still remains the Middle East and North Africa. The conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Iraq, Libya, Turkey´s conflict with the Kurdish minority, Egypt´s conflict with the Muslim Brotherhood are examples of the volatility of the region. Increasing involvement of global powers in the region leads to the possibility of a major confrontation. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict moves further and further away from a peaceful solution, which doesn´t bode well for the Jewish and Palestinian peoples and the prospects for a shared future. These conflicts also undermine any prospect for the improvement of an already dire social and economic situation. Young people will continue to suffer the most with no hope for their future. Social-Democrats will increasingly have to put more resources into maintaining and opening up diplomatic channels to avoid a major deterioration.”
Elie Podeh, Professor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
“As a Jewish-Israeli citizen, I believe that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the most important conflict we have to address. The lack of a solution to this age-old conflict jeopardizes Israel’s place in the Middle East and the world at large, and does not enable it to effectively deal with its domestic problems, such as social equality, the rights of the Arab-Palestinian minority, the religious-secular divide, the center-periphery gulf, etc. In light of the strengthening of conservative elements in Israel and the world, only an alliance of progressive forces will enable us to fight against this trend. Prof. Elie Podeh Hebrew University of Jerusalem.”
FES Connect team would like to thank FES Israel Office for the support in reaching out to the participants.