My dear friends and colleagues,
I ask your attention for this final letter that I am sending you as IPCRI co-director after 24 years of my work towards reconciliation and peace, to thank you for your continued support of IPCRI and to ask for your contribution to continue this work.
Twenty-four years ago, in March 1988, during the fourth month of the first intifada I rode into the Dheishe refugee camp in search of answers. I wanted to know if the Palestinian people were prepared to recognize Israel and to support the two-states solution. Twelve years before that, when I asked the PLO Ambassador in the United Nations the same question, he told me “over my dead body”. In March 1988 the young people of Dheishe told me most definitely yes. From that IPCRI was born and our cooperative Israeli-Palestinian joint search for solutions to the conflict emerged. Our work continues until today to foster hope and practical solutions to how to end this conflict and to bring peace to two peoples in two states.
Throughout these 24 years many things changed. IPCRI contributed by engaging countless officials, teachers, diplomats, children and women in work towards peace. However, when we look outside the window in our office, we still see a conflict that continues to harm the Palestinians and Israelis. I am leaving my post as co-director in IPCRI because I strongly believe that it is time to turn over the reins to the next generation. It is time to let loose new energy and new spirit. Mr. Dan Goldenblatt entered IPCRI as its new Israeli co-director and Ms. Riman Barakat will take over in February as IPCRI’s new Palestinian co-director.
I am now asking you, for the last time as IPCRI’s co-director to send your support for our work. IPCRI is going strong, despite the very difficult period we are in. The Government of the United States has voiced its support for our work by providing support for an important youth empowerment program. However, much of IPCRI’s other work remains unfunded, because of the sensitive nature of our work. Thus we need your support to continue doing the great work that you have assisted with us until now.
Your support will help us, among many other things, to:
Continue our greatest and newest endeavor of “women empowered for peace” which has over the past six months brought together Israeli and Palestinian women from periphery areas of Israel and Palestine, that had never before been engaged in cross-border activities. This is a great project that needs your support so that we can double the number of women from 70 to 140 in the coming year.
Continue to involve important Israeli, Palestinian and foreign stakeholders in the peace process in Track II negotiation groups. IPCRI convenes once a month the STAT (Strategic Thinking and Analysis Teams). These meetings bringing together officials and other stakeholders in a safe environment where they can talk discretely think together and search for greater understanding and solutions for issues one the current conflict agenda.
Clearly the most important thing that I have done in IPCRI and in my whole life was to play a major role in bringing Gilead Schalit home. My contacts, developed and fostered with leaders in Hamas over more than five years, are a testimony to the guiding principle of what IPCRI stands for – building relationships based on trust. When I look back over these past 24 years and think about what IPCRI stands for, the following words enter my mind: Integrity, persistence, optimism, and trust – these are also what enabled me to create the secret back channel negotiations with Hamas that brought Gilead Schalit home after 5 years and four months in captivity. This is the value of IPCRI.
We have advised Prime Ministers, Ministers of Economy and Finance, Trade and Industry, Agriculture and Tourism. We have trained and worked with bankers, lawyers and policemen, teachers, students and nature park rangers. We have done hundreds of projects over all of these years. It is through these experiences, these activities, the development of thousands of contacts and networks throughout Israel and Palestine that makes IPCRI such as special and valuable organization.
Now, before the year ends, I turn to you and ask for your contribution. I am asking you to contribute now in recognition of the work that Hanna and I have done over the last 24 years in IPCRI and for the work that is ahead for Riman and Dan to lead.
I cannot emphasize enough that any amount is important and every contribution helps. Without the contribution of donors IPCRI cannot continue its work.
You can make a contribution online with credit card at:
Or you can send a check to us at:
PO Box 9321
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.
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