May 6, 2009
Mayer Theater, 7:30 p.m.
Does religion ultimately strangle politics? Is peace in the Middle East possible? Must Israel become a secular state to survive?
Avraham Burg has been a leading figure in Israeli politics for the last 20 years.
A former Speaker of the Knesset—and the youngest person ever in that role—Burg also served as the leader of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency for Israel. Born into a conservative Zionist family in Jerusalem (his father was one of the founders of the National Religious Party), Burg served in the Labor Party and has been a vocal supporter of peace in the Middle East.
Burg left the Knesset in 2004, after spending five weeks hiking the Appalachian Trail and, as—as he has said—realizing “I had to change the pace of my life.”
Since then, he has operated as a lone and maverick voice on Israeli policies and attitudes; he has said he fears that “Israel is shrinking into its own shell rather than struggling for a better world.”
Though he has struck nerves and drawn fire on both the left and the right end of the political spectrum, Burg continues to sound alarms surrounding the future of Israel. His latest book, The Holocaust is Over; We Must Rise from its Ashes, references what he has frequently seen as a fundamental emptiness at the core of Israeli society. As he told New Yorker writer David Remnick: “The most optimistic years in the state of Israel were 1945 to 1948. The farther we got from the camps and the gas chambers, the more pessimistic we became and the more untrusting we became toward the world.”
Remnick sums up Burg’s position: “Burg warns that an increasingly large and ardent sector of Israeli society disdains political democracy. He describes the country in its current sate as Holocaust-obsessed, militaristic, xenophobic, and, like Germany in the nineteen-thirties, vulnerable to an extremist minority.”
Burg is also the author of Defeating Hitler and God is Back, which became a No. 1 best-seller in Israel.
Please join us for an evening with Burg and a book signing.