Associate Professor at Open University Israel, Senior Research Fellow at Van Leer Jerusalem Institute
The Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue has an internationally recognized reputation in supporting the identification of constructive solutions for one of the most complex conflicts: Israel/Palestine. In 2012, the Forum embarked on a multi-faceted journey in the course of which an intense process of bold thinking, frank discussions, and thorough intellectual engagment turned an intellectual, academic exercise into a relevant political project tested in Europe, in the US and in the region. Against the background of the collapse of the so called peace talks but also on the assumption of a different approach needed, a newly introduced discourse is based on rights and values instead of power and interests and is gaining momentum in the current public debate. The initiative departs from the current paradigm in several ways: By addressing the fundamental issues from the start (rather than at a later stage), by going from principles to implementation and not vice versa, and by rejecting the logic of strict separation and partition Rethinking Israel/Palestine goes beyond the binary predicament of “one state/two states” and adopts a binational rights-based approach instead.
Alternatives to Partition
Within Rethinking Israel/Palestine, Alternatives to Partition constituted the frame for workshops in which the participants defined Basic Principles for Jewish Israeli and Arab Palestinian Partnership that aim to secure the individual and collective rights (including national self-determination), interests, and identities of Jewish-Israelis and Palestinians alike in historical Palestine/Israel. Of prime importance, these basic principles can be accommodated and realized in various constitutional and/or institutional arrangements (including a two nation-state arrangement).
In 2013, the Basic Principles were presented and discussed in Brussels at the European Parliament, Foreign Affairs Commission with Round Tables held with MEPs of all Parties and representatives of the European Commission External Action Service; followed by a debate about new paradigms for Israel/Palestine and the Socialist and Democrats Group conference. The contributions were compiled in a publication in 2014 titled Rethinking Israel/Palestine: Partition and its Alternatives edited by Bashir Bashir and Azar Dakwar, and discussed further in presentations at the European Parliament in Brussels in 2015; in the House of the European Union in Vienna and in Jerusalem and in a series of local and international workshops.
The process majorly contributed to the notable and widely acclaimed publication Bashir Bashir and Amos Goldberg (eds.), The Holocaust and the Nakba: A New Grammar of Conflicting Historical Traumas (Columbia University Press, 2018).
To complement the debate, the Bruno Kreisky Forum runs a series of seminars of Arab/Jewish Engagements under the heading Regionalism and Borders. Regionalism and Borders is a long term and ongoing project of intellectual encounters seeking to critically assess and examine the historical, political and cultural developments and intersections between the Middle East and Europe while placing at its center the question of Palestine. Through a series of closed international workshops, the project has addressed thus far numerous themes like partition, decolonization, interrogating nationalism, Antisemitism and Islamophobia, and Arab and Jewish questions. This succesful behind closed door seminar series under Chatham rules has culminated in the publication of Bashir Bashir and Leila Farsakh (eds.), The Arab and Jewish Questions: Geographies of Engagement in Palestine and Beyond (Columbia University Press, 2020).
The Brandt-Kreisky Symposium
In 2021, the Kreisky Forum launched a successful cooperation with the Willy Brandt Centre in Jerusalem.
The Brandt-Kreisky Symposium is designed to serve the diplomatic community, with particular focus on European diplomats, in Palestine and expose its members to the most recent scholarship and policy developments in Israel/Palestine that explain the enabling conditions for the emergence of this new political paradigm and the challenges that face it. The themes have been designed in order to suit individuals who don’t necessarily have a background in political science or close familiarity with Palestinian and Israeli society and history. View the summary of the individual sessions here:
- Session 1: The need to rethink Israel Palestine
- Session 2: Civic vs. Ethno-cultural Nationalism and Majority vs. Minority
- Session 3: The Right to National Self-Determination and Sovereignty: Statist Interpretation vs. Federalism
- Session 4: Liberal Democracy (One Person – One Vote) and Bi-nationalism in Israel/Palestine