Young leaders find signs of hope at the Israel Policy Forum conference

By Aaron Gorodzinsky
Director of Campaign and Security Planning
Two years ago I was selected as a Charles Bronfman Israel Policy Forum fellow. The program brings together young Jewish leaders of all backgrounds who are engaged in Israel advocacy to provide access to policy experts, materials, and resources, to ensure that the next generation of Israel advocates has all the tools and knowledge needed to succeed. 
After a long interview process, I was selected to be a part of the 2020 program and began a year of training with the Israel Policy Forum that included access to policymakers, experts in the field, virtual tours, and difficult conversations about the future of Israel and the region. At the end of the year, we were offered the opportunity to attend the IPF annual meeting. 
Following a couple of hiccups on the road because of COVID, my fellowship and the 2021 fellowship came together in Washington, D.C., to attend a day seminar and be a part of the meeting. 
During the three-day conference, we were briefed, off the record, by Israeli, Egyptian, Jordanian, and Palestinian experts who shared their views, hopes, and expertise, and challenged us to see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from their perspective. The conversations were frank because of the closed-door policy. 
At the same time, we had the opportunity to hear from U.S. ambassadors to Israel and their staff members who were involved in several peace processes. They told us about their hopes moving forward for lasting peace in the Middle East. Proof of that hope was that every single speaker brought to our attention the signing of the Abraham Accords and the changes that have occurred in the Middle East. The Abraham Accords are bringing a new era of peace, hope, and prosperity to the region. Countries that did not have any (official) ties to Israel are accelerating business and technology deals. Universities and students are exchanging ideas, and commerce is thriving. A new dawn of peace is emerging in the region. 
But beyond the hope for peace, there was also a stern warning inside of Israel. Many experts warned us that this could be the last generation of Israelis and Arabs who believe there is a possibility of a two-state solution, leaving us with no good solutions ahead of us. We all recognize that the two-state solution is not the ideal solution, but the alternatives are even worse, and in order for Israel to remain a democratic and prosperous nation, we must all work together to achieve it before it is too late.   
I came back from the conference reinvigorated after learning that we in the Jewish community, our Israeli partners, and the Middle East in general have similar interests to pursue peace in the region. This has been accelerated by the Abraham Accords, changing the region and the perception of Israel forever. Yet, there is much more that we need to do to ensure that Israel remains what it is today: a prosperous democratic nation. It is up to us as a Jewish community to continue to engage in this process by visiting Israel, speaking to our elected officials, and engaging in constructive conversations. We, the next generation of leaders, are ready for the challenge, and I hope you will join us.