LISTEN: Former MK says Trump’s controversial peace plan unites Israelis
People of the Pod

LISTEN: Former MK says Trump’s controversial peace plan unites Israelis

Episode #21: Does peace stand a chance? * An historic interfaith tour of Auschwitz may be breakthrough in Jewish-Muslim relations * The only novel written in Auschwitz

This week, US President Donald Trump revealed his long-awaited – and much-hyped – plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

The plan, which was rejected by the Palestinian leadership sight unseen, was publicized just over a month ahead of Israeli elections — and whether it portends good or bad things for the Jewish state depends on who you ask.

Weekly podcast “People of the Pod,” is produced by the American Jewish Committee in cooperation with The Times of Israel, and examines current events through a Jewish lens.

In this week’s first segment, co-host Seffi Kogen speaks with former Israeli Knesset member Einat Wilf about her thoughts on what is, for better or for worse, a historic moment for Israel.

“The Trump proposal,” Wilf says, “has actually managed to put together a vast Israeli [political] center, which probably encompasses in Israel about 70 to 80 percent of Israeli Jews.”

Einat Wilf addresses the Knesset, October 15, 2012. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Einat Wilf addresses the Knesset, October 15, 2012. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

This politically centrist bloc, says Wilf, understands that the Palestinians will need to have some measure of autonomy on land of their own, while also recognizing that this will no longer be achieved through the vision of the 1990s and early 2000s, which would have established a fully sovereign Palestinian state that would be able to threaten Israel’s security.

“The most important aspect of the plan, by far, is not what’s in it, but it’s the way that it was received and supported… by Arab countries. This is truly a first,” Wilf says.

Next, AJC director of international interreligious affairs Rabbi David Rosen tells Kogen about a milestone interfaith trip to Auschwitz put together in cooperation with the World Muslim League (MWL) ahead of the January 27 anniversary of the camp’s 1945 liberation. The participation of Sheikh and Dr. Mohammed al-Issa, head of the MWL, along with roughly two dozen other high-level Muslim religious leaders, may signify an unprecedented recognition of the Jewish genocide by the Muslim world.

Illustrative: an interfaith delegation to Auschwitz including Muslim World League head Mohammed al-Issa, January 23, 2020. (Yaakov Schwartz/Times of Israel)

Historically, says Rosen, the Muslim World League “has taken a rather hard line… approach that has been insular, and often even derogatory, towards other religions. It hasn’t historically been involved in a lot of inter-religious dialogue.”

But Dr. al-Issa, says Rosen, under the auspices of the last and current Saudi monarchs, has “brought in a completely different breath of fresh air with regards to this organization, opening it up to the world at large, disavowing radicalism or insular extremism, and seeking to articulate a voice… of what they claim is the original, more moderate approach of Saudi Arabia that was actually compromised by political factors that led them to become insular.”

And lastly, co-host Manya Brachear Pashman interviews Melcher de Wind, the son of author Eddy de Wind, who in the days immediately following the liberation of Auschwitz penned the only novel to have been written from inside the death camp.

That’s not all on the podcast front from The Times of Israel. This week, two high-profile figures on opposite ends of the Israeli spectrum – who also happen to be old high school friends — held a heated a debate in front of a live audience. Moderated by The Times of Israel’s Jewish World and Archaeology editor Amanda Borschel-Dan, J Street founder Jeremy Ben-Ami battled it out with conservative think tank JCPA’s Dan Diker, in a conversation that laid bare the values at the core of both men.

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