Settler leader and NGO head seek to ‘clean up discourse’ in Israel

The initiative encourages members of the public to help create a treaty for political discourse.

Israeli Scouts Tsofim get ice cream and learn about a more civilized Israeli discourse (photo credit: TAMARA ZIEVE)
Israeli Scouts Tsofim get ice cream and learn about a more civilized Israeli discourse
(photo credit: TAMARA ZIEVE)
In an unlikely partnership, and one which its initiators would like to see more of, a settler leader and two-state solution advocate have teamed up to try to break down barriers and create a more civilized discourse in an increasingly splintered Israeli society.
The seed was planted after Efrat Council head Oded Revivi and Polly Bronstein, CEO of the civil society movement Darkenu, attended the AIPAC conference in Washington and a subsequent post written by Bronstein caught Revivi’s attention.
Bronstein reflected on the powerful experience she had hearing 18,000 people under one roof cheer for Israel.
The two didn’t meet among the multitude of people at AIPAC, but upon their return to Israel, Revivi called Bronstein.
“We were both so proud of Israel and obviously come from two sides of the political spectrum... and we said we both felt the same about being proud of Israel and how Democrats and Republicans come to celebrate Israel,” Bronstein told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
The pair discussed replicating a similar event in Israel and felt that people with different perspectives usually don’t talk to each other and instead focus on hating, delegitimizing and inciting against each other.
“He said we should do something huge together,” Bronstein recalled.
Revivi had in mind a pact on secular and religious relations drawn up by law professor Ruth Gavison and Gush Etzion Rabbi Yaakov Medan. “It was quite famous but it didn’t have much influence because it was drawn by two individuals,” Revivi told the Post on Monday, explaining that the Israeli Discourse Treaty would be a bottom-up process focused on how to hold a “clean” discussion.
The initiative’s launch event, held earlier this month, highlighted Israel’s move toward both local and national elections, and that the initiative seeks to create a healthy climate for dialogue via a pact that will be formulated by a range of Israeli groups. So far, 17 organizations have signed up, including religious and secular youth movements, a women’s peace organization, an Arab group and kibbutzim movements.
Asked whether there was an equal balance of right-wing and left-wing groups, Revivi said they weren’t concerned about such labels, but in attracting as many people as possible to take part.
They are doing this via three platforms. The first is a Facebook group called “Cleaning the Discourse” that currently has 1,400 members. They hope to reach 10,000 people and to conduct some of the discussions via that platform.
The second platform is an ice cream truck traveling all over the country to symbolically “cool down the discourse.” Not only does the truck providing dessert, it also encourages members of the public to get involved with the charter.
The third platform involves dialogue groups to facilitate contributions to the charter. Suggestions have included leaving the topic of the Holocaust out of political discourse, or preventing a political discussion from becoming personal.
Representatives of the involved organizations will eventually sit together and use the information from the discussions to draft a charter, which they intend to present to President Reuven Rivlin with the hope that he will sign it. After that, they hope MKs and the rest of the public will sign on to the document. The vision is that the treaty will constitute a reference point for the next decade or so to be taught at schools, in youth movements and to be used by the army, journalists and by the Knesset.
“We want it to be a lighthouse,” Bronstein said.