• Rotem A. Oreg

We Can Build Bridges

It is my third and final week in San Diego, CA. The program I'm participating at, the Hansen Leadership Institute , is one of the most empowering experiences I had the honor to have, and I can write about it for hours. Right now, there is one lesson I'd like to share: the theory behind our mission, that cooperation between Israeli and American liberals is possible when grounded in common values, has proven to be true.


I had the chance to speak with dozens of Californian leaders in the past weeks, from civil society to academia to elected officials. I didn't ask but by our conversations, all from the liberal side of the political map. The majority of them are not interested in foreign affairs in general and in Israel in particular, and whilst they may have had some questions about specific policies, Biden's visit or the stagnation in the peace process, Israel didn't catch their attention spawn. Talking about terrorism, rockets or the Nuclear Deal was pointless - but when "civilian" agendas were brought up, particularly agendas related to liberal values, a real connection.


My American allies were thrilled to hear about Israel's Abortion Policy, the struggle for rights for the LGBTQ+ community and on how climate change can be framed as a national security threat in a country that deals with military threats. We exchanged ideas and best practices on raising awareness to mental health, which affects every other issue; on the struggle for freedom of religion; and on "life itself" issues that are core to free and just societies - housing, healthcare and education.

And yes, we talked about the conflict - from a critical, comprehensive and complex perspective, that seeks to understand and not just to solve.


And it is not about avoiding thought questions, or ignoring our differences, or Greenwashing - it is about focusing on our common values, which are the foundation to everything we do. If we want to build buildings we must invest in the foundations - and it is true for bridges too. In recent days we just finalized the details on our next dialogue, there's definitely a good good reason to mark August the 14th on your calendar.


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