Former Speaker of Knesset to give talk
Avraham Burg appears in Ketchum
By DANA DUGAN
Express Staff Writer
Among the impressive speakers valley
organizations have enticed to the valley in the past, the guest this week of the
Wood River Jewish Community, Avraham Burg, is what the news industry calls a
"get." Burg, a prominent player in Middle East politics, is speaking 5 p.m.
Saturday, July 10, at St. Thomas Church in Ketchum.
Born in Jerusalem in 1955, Burg became by
age 30 the youngest speaker ever in the history of the Israeli Knesset. He is a
staunch supporter of peace in the Middle East, and is an outspoken critic of
Ariel Sharonís methods.
"I am coming because of Edgar Bronfmanís
match making between you people," Burg said in a phone interview. "He is like an
elder brother to me, when a call like this comes, I just say tell me what you
want me to say and when."
Burgís speech is titled "Israel
Misunderstood: A World Perspective on the Middle East Conflict."
"What happened to the world from the 1990s
which was a decade of reconciliation, this is a decade of intensified conflict?"
"I ask what would make a good president?
Itís like a good parent who does not what the child wants but what the child
Burg, a committed advocate of the
separation of politics and religion in Israel, founded the Open Midrasha Center
for Jewish Studies.
"I started my career as a recently
released paratrooper in the war against Lebanon, (in which he was seriously
injured). Right away I established the first ever protest against the Lebanon
war, which was Ariel Sharonís."
In 1985, he was appointed by then Prime
Minister Shimon Peres to serve as his adviser on Diaspora Affairs. In 1988 Burg
was elected to the Knesset on the Alignment Party List, where he was a prominent
member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the Finance Committee and
the State Control Committee.
Burg helped to make changes in the
structure and role of the National Institutions, including the return of
property stolen during the Holocaust and the battle for religious pluralism and
tolerance in Israel. He stepped down from this position in 1999 to run again for
the Knesset and in 1999 was elected Speaker of the Knesset.
After 13 years Burg resigned last week.
"They couldnít stand me anymore," he said, laughing. "I took a very hard
position against the joining of the Labor Party and Sharonís positions.
"I donít like what America is doing or
what our country is doing. Weíve been adopting a patronizing attitude or
ignoring the other in the process. I prefer to solve the problem with discussion
in a bilateral approach.
"Iím happy with the core of Sharonís
understanding, occupation is bad. We have to walk out of Gaza, but I would do it
differently. The ruling majority in the country of the day are short sighted,
they see an opportunity and they just go for it.
"We were a part of the problem for 37
years, now we have to be part of the solution."
Itís this attitude that makes Burg a
fascinating speaker. He is well informed and articulate about his passions,
which are anything but narrow minded.
The event is free and open to everyone.