Tonight we heard from former Israeli Ambassador Ilan Baruch on the BDS Movement. Baruch resigned his position with the Foreign Ministry over currently policy toward the Palestinians. For context, here is his bio:
Ambassador (ret.) Ilan Baruch is currently the policy advisor for MK Zehava Galon, Chairperson of MERETZ and a peace activist. He resigned from the MFA on grounds of principle, after 36 years of diplomatic career. It included overseas postings in Asia, Europe and Africa. Head-quarter postings: founder/director of the Palestinian Autonomy department, head - coordination of the Multilateral Peace Process and head - Middle East division for economic cooperation. Baruch was a team member of the Israeli delegation to the Oslo Peace negotiations, and participated in various negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Egypt on economic agreements. His last posting was Ambassador of Israel to South Africa, as well as Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Since his early retirement, Baruch is devoting his time and experience to projects in public diplomacy, is running a weekly program in the "All for Peace" radio, and contributes political analysis in different media outlets.
And what does he say about BDS? This interview from last year sums up what he told our group from Chicago Theological Seminary tonight:
...I am concerned with the far left, as seen in universities within the European Union who have called for the divestment from Israel. This is similar to the movement that was taken by many universities calling for divestment from South Africa. This serves to feed the "citadel Israel" mentality which leads to isolationism. This is not good for us, this is not good for the Palestinians and it is not good for anyone interested in the peace process...
Ambassador Baruch did speak strongly for international pressure to bring the current Israeli government to the peace table and urged, as we have heard from many here, that additional grassroots programs be developed to bring Israelis and Palestinians together. Personal relationships and not politics are the key to peace, he said.
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