Labor MKs urge Obama to push peace negotiations

Sharansky: New MKs understand that Israel and world Jewry are dependent on each other.

MKs at Jewish Agency Board of Governors meeting 370 (photo credit: Sam Sokol)
MKs at Jewish Agency Board of Governors meeting 370
(photo credit: Sam Sokol)
Diaspora Jewry must get involved in shaping Israel’s future and not allow themselves to be relegated to being the Jewish state’s cheerleaders abroad, freshman MK Stav Shaffir told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
“Many times there is a confusion in the Jewish community abroad,” she said, “not knowing whether they should get involved, whether they should influence, whether they should do something; whether they have the right to do something about Israel, [since] they are not living here.”
Shaffir, one of the leaders of the country’s summer 2011 protest movement and a newly elected MK from the Labor Party, spoke to the Post at the annual Jewish Agency Board of Governors gathering in Jerusalem, where she took part in a panel of new female MKs who were debating the challenges and opportunities facing Israel in the coming four years.
Also participating were MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), MK Shuli Muallem (Bayit Yehudi) and MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid).
Speaking to an audience in which many prominent American Jewish leaders were sitting, Shaffir aimed her message squarely at Diaspora Jewry.
“I want to say something to you,” she told the audience, “because I think that the Jew in the Diaspora has a very important role not only in supporting Israel from a distance and saying that Israel is good no matter what, but supporting the two-state solution and supporting Israel to find a way to solve the conflict.”
“The Jewish Diaspora should put some pressure on President [Barack] Obama to not only get the Israelis and the Palestinians to start negotiations,” she said, but to work toward a comprehensive Middle East peace.
“If we want to think about our security, and if we want to have this beautiful home in 20 years time,” she said, Israel has to go back to the negotiating table. Otherwise, “We are heading towards a binational state.
You can look at it and you can see it or not, but that is where we are going.”
“If we don’t define our borders quickly, we will have a binational state. We will lose our Jewish identity, safety. We need to project 40 years ahead and ensure that Israel has a Jewish identity.”
Bucking popular opinion, Shaffir also said that “there is nothing to be proud of” in having 27 female MKs in the current Knesset.
“It’s something to be ashamed of,” she said, asserting that half of Israel’s lawmakers should be female.
Elaborating on her comments during the panel, the 27-yearold parliamentarian told the Post that, aside from issues of war and peace, Diaspora Jewry could collaborate with Israeli Jews in fighting for social justice and a more equal society.
“What I am saying sounds very ideological and not very pragmatic but, basically, is in the Jewish spirit and definitely in the Zionist spirit; there is this will for tikkun olam [the Jewish ideal of repairing the world]. It’s not only about peace and war; it’s also about social justice.”
“If Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu were in David Ben- Gurion’s place in 1948,” Shaffir told the Post, “he wouldn’t have written” the same declaration of independence that the country’s founders signed, because he and the Likud Party “strongly disagree with many progressive aspects” of the document.
“It’s a very progressive declaration that talks about Zionism, that talks about safety for the Jewish people, about reconnecting to our home, but at the same time it talks about equal rights, it talks about a community, about society where people care about each other regardless of religion, regardless of age, regardless of gender, and it’s very progressive for Netanyahu's government.”
Addressing the opening session of the Board of Governors conference, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said that “it is increasingly clear that world Jewry depends on Israel and Israel depends on world Jewry. From left to right, the new Knesset includes many new members who share this belief. Today, we have many new partners in the Knesset for our work.”
Sharansky also said that Netanyahu, who was scheduled to attend the Board of Governors forum on Monday morning, “is strongly committed to supporting the interests of world Jewry.”