Abraham Fund’s Alan Slifka – ‘a great visionary’

Tribute: He believed in Israel’s obligation to practice cooperation, tolerance and equality of opportunity, independent of political affiliations.

By DAN PATTIR
February 8, 2011 05:45
2 minute read.
Alan Slifka

Slifka 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

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 minorities.

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 affiliations.

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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.

Slifka’s exemplary 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 remembered.

Alan Slifka, the great visionary and dedicated pioneer, will be deeply missed by all of his followers and coworkers in a noble and vitally important cause.

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).


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