Nadav Tamir, Senior Advisor for Governmental and International Affairs
A different perspective on the Israeli - Palestinian conflict
This article is the second in a three-part series
When we graduated in 2004, I was invited to participate in an initiative called IPNP (Israeli Palestinian Negotiation Partners) at the Roger Fisher House. This initiative brought together a group of Israelis and Palestinians who were selected as current or potential future negotiators in order to learn the “Getting to Yes” method developed by Professor Roger Fisher. Until then, my career was mainly focused on the Israel–US relationship, but thanks to Issa, who was on the steering committee, and Dr. Shula Gilad, who led the program for Harvard’s Project on Negotiations, I was given the opportunity to participate.
It was a transformational experience on multiple levels. Not only did I have a chance to learn and implement the “7 Elements of Effective Negotiations” (i.e. Interests, Legitimacy, Relationship, Alternatives, Options, Commitments and Communication), I was also afforded a unique opportunity to network and build friendships with Palestinians who were passionate about peace and diplomacy, a passion I share.
Two years later, when I returned to the Boston area as the Israeli Consul General to New England, I brought with me many of the insights that I learned through my relationship with Issa and tried to spread the same approach that we adopted as students.
As Consul General I worked tirelessly to reframe the discussion around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the usual “blame game” towards constructive engagement. I worked to promote dialogue groups on college campuses and supported coexistence organizations. Whenever I was told by my staff that there was a pro-Palestinian demonstration outside the Consulate, I would ask if we can join, because one can be pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel at the same time.
I tried to initiate a joint group of Palestinians and Jews from the diaspora in Boston to learn together from the experience of the Irish diaspora. After all, the Irish Bostonians changed course from supporting the IRA to supporting the peace process. That process was led by Senator George Mitchell and eventually achieved the “Good Friday Agreement.” The Bostonian Irish community understood that supporting peace and economic development in Northern Ireland would be more helpful to the Northern Irish Republic cause than sending arms.
I thought that it could be a great case study for the Jewish and Palestinian communities, who I envisioned would eventually support an economic coexistence project between Israelis and the Palestinians on the ground. Unfortunately, this initiative did not materialize because our Palestinian partner relocated to Washington DC and my post in Boston ended swiftly thereafter.
Nadav Tamir is The Peres Center's senior advisor for governmental and international affairs and former personal adviser of Shimon Peres for diplomatic affairs.