Alan B. Slifka, who passed away on Friday in Los Angeles at the age of 81, was
one of the world’s greatest visionaries and activists in our time in the field
of cooperation, understanding and coexistence between society’s majorities and
Slifka was a great humanitarian who combined his ideas with
providing tools for systematic education, as well as deepening awareness of the
ever-increasing urgency for coexistence. He labored tirelessly to turn Israel
into a living example, believing that it was Israel’s obligation to practice
cooperation, tolerance and equality of opportunity, independent of political
Slifka’s deep-rooted beliefs stemmed from the
self-proclaimed recognition of the fact that for generations, until the
establishment of the State of Israel, Jews lived – and suffered – as a minority
among majority societies.
Now, for the first time in modern history, Jews
are in the position of a majority over Arab minorities – a situation that Slifka
felt obligated the State of Israel to make the coexistence that has been lacking
for Jewish minorities elsewhere a reality.
Moreover, Slifka positioned
himself inside the arenas of action in Israel, first with frequent visits, then
by making Jerusalem his permanent home. Mobilizing tens of millions of dollars
from contributors, in addition to generous constant support from his own funds,
he created the Abraham Fund Initiatives.
Throughout the the last three
decades, Slifka ploughed methodically through government institutions and
legislative authorities, and met with all prime ministers. While he was honored
by the sympathetic statements and promises aimed at better understanding, he was
fully aware that only an ongoing long-range policy and its implementation could
bring about the desired change.
Slifka’s core argument was that contrary
to the old formula, in which the three leading priorities on Israel’s national
agenda were security, education and economy, there were four priorities on that
list, because one had to regard internal Arab-Jewish relations as equally vital
and important for Israel’s national fortitude.
endeavors, in Israel as well as in the US, and his great achievements in the
field of education – specifically in higher education – will always be
Alan Slifka, the great visionary and dedicated pioneer, will
be deeply missed by all of his followers and coworkers in a noble and vitally
The writer served as the executive vice president of the
Abraham Fund Initiative in Israel (2000-2006) and formerly as media adviser to
prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin (1974- 1981).