Gershon Baskin

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Gershon Baskin "moved to Israel from the United States in the late 1970s. He worked with Jews and Arabs within Israel until the first intifada, when he began promoting dialogue and opportunities for cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. He is the founder of IPCRI, a jointly-run Israeli and Palestinian think tank that works with hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians in government and the private sector – it is funded by USAID[1]. IPCRI was first based in Jerusalem, and in the late 1990s moved its offices to Bethlehem. Because of current travel restrictions, IPCRI has relocated to Tantur, near Jerusalem and next to the main Bethlehem checkpoint, in an effort to find an accessible and comfortable meeting place for Israelis and Palestinians." [2]

Part of the Human Rights Industry

Baskin has been criticized for engaging in activities which are of limited influence, without reference to the wishes of Palestinians, and part of the "realist" wing of the near-defunct Israeli peace camp.[1] Michael Warschawski explains:

A long time ago, in the 1980s, Gershon Baskin was a militant in the "small wheel", and very active in the Committee Confronting the Iron Fist, a Palestinian-Israeli group around the late Palestinian leader Faisal Husseini.
A few years later he decided to be "realistic", and to have direct connections with the US administration (through USAID, for example, an agency boycotted by every decent Palestinian organization). Under this new hat, he became a self-appointed adviser for the US administration and, according to his own testimony, he is the one who arranged the exchange of prisoners [sic] leading to the release of Israeli captive soldier Gilad Shalit.
Since the good old days of the Committee Confronting the Iron Fist, neither Baskin nor any one from IPCRI participated in the [Israeli] Coalition against the War/Occupation which, during the last fifteen years, has been the united leadership and organizer of almost every Israeli (and sometimes Palestinian-Israeli) mobilization against war and colonial occupation.
For Baskin the small wheel has become irrelevant, replaced by "NGO-diplomacy" which often speaks on behalf of the "big wheel", i.e. Peace Now. I will not argue against this legitimate choice based on "realism", and turning one’s back on uncompromising lunatics. In the last decade, however, such a choice has become irrelevant, pathetic even: the Israeli mainstream peace movement (Peace Now in particular, but also its political representation in the Knesset) vanished, evaporated. To avoid any misreading, I must add that such a fate makes me extremely sad: a small wheel without a big one cannot make Uri Avnery’s bicycle move, and though one has to be proud that a few thousands, belonging to the small wheel, are still actively denouncing Israel’s war policies, colonial occupation, repression and the Wall, one must confess that, unlike in the years 1982-1999, these mobilizations do not anymore have an impact on the decision making processes.
In a speech given in Geneva at the International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East, Gershon Baskin tried to explain the reasons for the death of the (mainstream) Israeli peace movement. Instead of blaming our own mistakes (and sometimes even treasons), Baskin is accusing… the Palestinians. What typically colonialist behaviour! The victim of the colonial policy of our state is to be blamed for its own oppression, and for our own failures. How? By rejecting normalization with people like Baskin. "I want to help them, but they reject my offered hand!" says, in substance, a deeply offended IPCRI founding member. A modern version of Golda Meir's "the never loose an opportunity to loose an opportunity", the usual "own goal” of the Palestinians.

Baskin is furthermore taken to task by Sergio Yahni who states:

Gershon Baskin founded the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) in 1988; currently he is on the group's board of directors. Baskin's statement, which appears to be shared by many so-called peace seeking Israelis, expresses a radical incapacity for self reflection and a colonial vision of the political realities in West Asia.
Normalizers are not the ones who engage responsibly in the struggle for rights and join forces with Palestinians to create a different future, but the ones who would prefer to blame the victims instead of assuming responsibilities for the policies they themselves promoted.[3]


Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. 1.0 1.1 Michael Warschawski, Israel peace camp: who became irrelevant? response to Dr. Gershon Baskin, Alternative Information Center (AIC), 17 June 2012.
  2. Gershon Baskin, Just Vision, accessed August 22, 2007.
  3. Sergio Yahni, Palestinians are to blame for weakness of Israel's left? , Alternative Information Center (AIC), 12 June 2012.
  4. About Us, Palestine-Israel Journal, accessed August 10, 2007.
  5. Personalities, Israeli/Palestinian Center for Research and Information, accessed August 22, 2007.