Israeli politician to discuss prospects for peace

November 5, 2004

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Avraham Burg, former speaker of the Israeli Knesset and Geneva Accord negotiator, will speak on: “Struggling Towards Peace in Times of Terror” on Tuesday, Nov. 9, at 7:30 p.m. in 20 Hasbrouck.

Burg, a staunch supporter of peace in the Middle East, has been a prominent public figure for more than 20 years. A senior member of Israel’s Labor party, he is regarded as one of the most charismatic and paradoxical members of Parliament. He is an Orthodox Jew in a secular party who champions the separation of church and state. Burg’s long record of political activism pushed him to adopt a liberal, reconciliatory approach to the Middle Eastern conflict: “All of my life I’ve been an activist of the peace camp in Israel. I’m ready to go a very, very long way of acceptance, of compromising, of dialogue.” In 2003, Burg helped to negotiate the Geneva Accord.

Born and raised in Israel, Burg is the son of a Holocaust survivor who went on to become the former head of the National Religious Party. While participating in a peace rally against the war in Lebanon in 1983, Burg was wounded by a grenade that killed a fellow activist. By the mid-1980s, Burg was Shimon Peres’ advisor on Diaspora Affairs and in 1988, he was elected to the Knesset as a prominent member in several committees. He left the Knesset in 1995 to head the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI). In 1999, at age 44, Burg was elected speaker of the 15th Knesset, the youngest speaker in Israel’s history.

Burg has written for the Guardian and the International Herald Tribune and has appeared on various television programs, including CNN’s “Crossfire” and CBS’ “The Early Show.”

The event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by UMass Hillel and co-sponsored by the Office of Jewish Affairs, the Judaic and Near Eastern Studies Department, and Five College Hillel.