Late in the evening on Sunday, March 8, we met with Gershon Baskin and Riman Barakat.
This was our last (official) meeting of a long day involving talks about peace and conflict resolution, and it way it was, as student Kelsey Mader called it, “the perfect way to end.” The rest of Kelsey’s recap follows:
We met Gershon and Riman at The Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI), an organization in Jerusalem that focuses on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a focus on peace and coexistence. IPCRI supports a two-state solution in which both the Israeli and Palestinian people would have a nation and place to call home. Gershon and Riman were both on the founding team of this organization and are still working unwaveringly toward their goal of peace. You can visit IPCRI’s website for more information: http://ipcri.org/httpdocs/IPCRI/Who_We_Are.html.
Gershon Baskin has been involved in many negotiations on behalf of Israel – very notably, Gershon negotiated on behalf of Israel for the release of Gilad Shalit from Hamas’s control in the Gaza strip. Gershon had many pieces of insightful information to share with us regarding his experiences and his opinions about how Israel and Palestine should move forward, but what stood out to me most was the list of eight things he shared as vital elements to a peace resolution. Those eight elements were: (1) Palestinian statehood; (2) borders; (3) Jerusalem; (4) refugees; (5) physical link between Gaza and the West Bank; (6) economics; (7) national resources; and (8) security arrangements. This was the first time I remember someone so clearly articulating their thoughts about a peace resolution. It hit me how complex and emotional this issue is – eight large, heavy, sensitive elements that must be a part to a successful agreement. It struck me how idyllic peace seems – are we crazy to strive for it when there is so much that seems to stand in the way? Or are we crazy not to?