Gershon Baskin feels that one of the primary concerns of Jewish Israeli citizens, the Law of Return, does not make non-Jewish citizens less equal.
Gershon Baskin, Co-CEO, IPCRI, Mohammad Darawshe – The Abraham Fund and Noah Efron – Bar Ilan University shared their ideas regarding shared citizenship for the Palestinian and Jewish Citizens of Israel.
Gershon Baskin opened the meeting, first arguing that one of the primary concerns of Jewish Israeli citizens, the Law of Return, does not make non-Jewish citizens less equal. He then went on to highlight all of the current legal and social constructions within Israel that do clearly disadvantage Arabs.
Mohammad Darawshe began with a general history of the relationship between Jewish and Arab Israelis. He then highlighted the fact that Arabs are not considered equal parts of Israeli society, and that they must be able to have the political power to affect their own futures. He also argued that Israel must learn to include the Arab narrative and culture as legitimate and equal.
Noah Efron explained the various options for creating a national narrative, arguing that Israeli society should not accept a unitary, Jewish-only identity, nor should it seek complete separation between identity and state. Instead, he proposed, Israel should expect its citizens to have separate but overlapping identities, and that there was much to be gained in the cross fertilization of more than one independent culture living cohesively.
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Gershon is an advisor to Israeli, Palestinian and International Prime Ministers on the Middle East Peace Process and the founder and director of IPCRI, the Israeli-Palestinian Public Policy Institute. He was the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel between Israel and Hamas for the release of 1,027 prisoners – mainly Palestinians and Arab-Israelis of which 280 were sentenced to life in prison for planning and perpetrating various attacks against Jewish targets that resulted in the killing of 569 Israelis in exchange for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit. Gershon is actively involved in research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, environmental security, political strategy, peace education, economics, culture and in the development of affordable solar projects with the goal of providing clean electricity for 50 million people by 2020.