The JAFI Meetings, Day 1

Beginning with “change – everywhere there is change”, Dede Feinberg, co-chair of the JAFI Assembly, welcomed 497 delegates to the opening plenary this morning. The two and a half day meeting will be filled with JAFI PR, addresses by political leaders including MK Tzpi Livni and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, updates on the economy, Iran and more. But the overriding discussion, occupying four of every five conversations, is over the proposed new governance resolutions and Natan Sharansky’s candidacy for Chair of the Executive.

There is no question the situation is still fluid; many predict an approval of both the governance issues and of Sharansky. A mixed result for some. But absolutely no-one considers this a done deal; as evidenced by the Prime Minister apparently willing to now negotiate all issues. One thing is for certain, and this was confirmed to me by many participants – regardless of the outcome, there will be an immediate need to begin a healing process. Otherwise, JAFI itself will be the big looser.

The keynote speaker was President Shimon Peres. Speaking on both Zionist history and the current doings in Iran while voicing hope for regime change, one can’t help but feel that not since Abba Eban has Israel enjoyed the benefit of such an eloquent speaker on her behalf. The President has not only returned dignity to the office, but elevated himself above the petty politics and jealousies of his predecessor. One can only hope this new level of discourse remains and is echoed by his successors.

A good model for all of us to follow.