Dr. Einat Wilf, a former Member of Israel’s Knesset, said she was invited, then uninvited, to participate on a panel at a conference held by activist group Peace Now. The conference is to be held on Friday, in Tel Aviv.
The panel was set to discuss whether international pressure on Israel is necessary to promote peace and Wilf said, via Facebook on Tuesday, that she was initially told that her “point of view, which opposes such pressure and certainly the domestic efforts to invite it, would be very appreciated in this discussion.”
Wilf said Peace Now director Yariv Oppenheimer called her on Monday and asked her not to participate. She said on Facebook that Oppenheimer “noted that he personally did not want to disinvite me, he was outnumbered within his own organization. The reason, he explained, was due to the fact I am a member of the International Advisory Council of NGO Monitor (along with other ‘human rights offenders’ such as Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel and Alan Dershowitz).”
She said that the group’s “dogmatic thinking” has blinded them ” to the importance of good manners” and noted “the inability of those who preach tolerance to hear a point of view that is not their own.”
In response, she issued a statement calling for more open debate for the greater good of Israel in the context of international pressure, or what she would have spoken about if she were on the panel:
“If the Israeli Left has no place for those who support a two-state solution and who also wage battle against those who seek to delegitimize Israel, it will not return to lead the country,” she wrote. “Leadership is not built through self-flagellation. Defending Israel and Zionism can and should be part of supporting peace and a two state solution.”
“Israel is under attack for its very legitimacy and the human-rights discourse serves various groups to undermine the foundational idea of Zionism that the Jewish People have a right to a sovereign state in their ancestral homeland. If people, whose work for human rights is indisputable such as Elie Wiesel and Alan Dershowitz, find it proper to fight against the demonization of Israel, then I am proud to wage this battle with them,” Wilf said.
Representatives for Peace Now did not immediately respond to The Algemeiner’s request for comment.
Voices in support of Wilf took to the blogosphere.
Blogger Elder of Ziyon wrote: ”As you can see, Einat Wilf is not a right winger. She entered Knesset as part of the Labor party and moved to Ehud Barak’s Independence party. And the supposedly liberal Peace Now cannot countenance the fact that she is on the advisory board of NGO Monitor! I’m waiting to hear the groundswell of outrage from members of the Left who are aghast that their ‘big tent’ doesn’t include pro-peace but unapologetically Zionist liberals.
“This episode proves quite easily that groups like Peace Now are a lot less tolerant then they pretend to be. And that they are not as comfortable with the idea of a proudly Jewish state as they claim. They embrace the narrative of Israel’s enemies and marginalize people like Wilf, which speaks volumes to how ‘Zionist’ they are,” the blogger said.
Noah Slepkov, a Canadian who made aliyah and worked as Wilf’s parliamentary assistant, posted on her Facebook page: “ There is a deep irony here. Peace Now, through its ‘Settlement Watch’ program ‘monitors – and protests, the building of settlements, including housing tenders, expropriation of lands in the West Bank and East Jerusalem’”
“Peace Now is saying it is important for the cause of peace to investigate, monitor, and report on right-wing organizations that they believe hinder a two-state solution, while at the same time criticizing organizations perceived to be on the right, such as NGO Monitor, that investigate and monitor organizations that they believe are exploiting the cause of human rights,” Slepkov posted.
Wilf, who turned 43 on Wednesday, was an Intelligence Officer and lieutenant in the IDF, then studied government at Harvard University, and earned an MBA at INSEAD and a PhD in political science at the University of Cambridge. She served as a Foreign Policy Advisor to Shimon Peres, who was Vice Prime Minister at the time, then as a consultant for McKinsey & Company, in New York, and a General Partner for Koor Corporate Venture Capital, in Israel. Wilf was a Senior Fellow at the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, wrote a weekly column for Israel HaYom and taught social entrepreneurship at Sapir College. In politics, she served as an MK for the Labor Party and then briefly as a member of the Independence Party.
Peace Now was formed during the 1978 Israeli-Egyptian peace talks between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat at a time when the talks looked close to collapse, according to its Wikipedia page, when 348 reserve officers and soldiers from Israeli army combat units published an open letter to the Prime Minister of Israel calling for the Israeli government not to squander the historic opportunity for peace between the two nations. Subsequently tens of thousands of Israelis petitioned the Israeli government in support of the letter, and as a result the movement known as Peace Now was born, and Israel and Egypt signed a peace agreement.
However, the group has gained more notoriety from its intense clashes with activists on the other side of the political spectrum, and its “‘Settlement Watch” program that ascribes conflict with the Palestinian Authority to continued Israel housing expansion.
Wilf said that the organization hinders consensus within Israel and the Jewish community at a time of international opposition to the Jewish state by supporting the same positions as avowed enemies of Israel.
“Israel is under attack for its very legitimacy and the human-rights discourse serves various groups to undermine the foundational idea of Zionism that the Jewish People have a right to a sovereign state in their ancestral homeland,” Wilf said on Facebook.