What is Talk17?

Talk17 is a series of presentations about Judea-Samaria/West-Bank and Jerusalem, filmed over the course of 2017. We upload one new presentation each week.

Presentations are from two sets of people: people who live, work, and/or study in these areas, or experts on subjects related to the region and/or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Presenters are Israeli and Arab; Jewish, Muslim, and Christian; men and women; young and old; right, left, and center politically; and at every age imaginable.

Why this platform – and why now?

2017 will be an important year for Israel. It marks fifty years since the 1967 Six-Day War, and 100 years since the Balfour Declaration. Many see 2017 as an opportune time to review the past fifty years and lay a foundation for the fifty years ahead.

People generally fall somewhere clear on the love-hate Israel spectrum. But while those who hate Israel – or who love Israel but disagree strongly on policy – often accuse Israel of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and occupation in Judea-Samaria/West-Bank, rarely do Israel’s friends and allies respond to those accusations in any way. Instead of addressing the issues head-on, the conversation is shifted to Israel’s hi-tech, agriculture or culinary achievements. By doing so, the real issues on the ground – good, bad, or otherwise – are ignored.

Fifty years later, Judea-Samaria/West-Bank continues to be a hot topic in diplomatic, political, and even cultural forums. Yet we rarely, if ever, see testimony from anyone who actually lives there (Jewish or Arab) when decisions are being made. We believe that every conversation must have equal representation, and that the reality presented to the media is very different than what happens in everyday life here.

As for the TED talk platform – there are no debates here. Just ideas. No matter where you stand on the issues, we believe everyone deserves a voice, and this allows everyone a chance to make their voice heard in an inclusive environment and an infinite audience.

Why is American Friends of Ariel spearheading this project? And who are you guys?

The American Friends of Ariel (AFA) organization provides social, cultural, and humanitarian services in the city of Ariel – the largest city in, and capital of, the Samaria region. AFA is also tasked with informing international visitors and the international press of life in Ariel and the surrounding region.

Ariel is a unique meeting point between conflict and coexistence. We’re the biggest city in the region at roughly 20,000 people (plus 15,000 university students) and Israel’s greatest detractors have labeled us as a major detriment to peace.

Yet Ariel – both the city and its citizens – remains on uniquely close terms with its Palestinian Arab neighbors. Our Industrial park provides thousands of workers, both Palestinian and Israeli, with high-level administrative industrial jobs with equal benefits and pay under Israeli law; 70% of its workers are Palestinian and many are in high-ranking positions. We employ Palestinians in a variety of sectors throughout the city and welcome Palestinian students at Ariel University. Remarkably, most of the terror attacks recorded in this region are from Palestinians visiting from other regions.

Ariel is not the only place where Israelis and Palestinians have forged a strong sense of regional sustainability, and it’s important to us to become part of that conversation and show the world that harmony can and does exist in this region. TALK17 is an ideal platform for beginning that conversation.

I want to be involved! How can I help?

Thanks for getting involved! As of this writing, we are running an ongoing Indiegogo campaign to ensure that we can keep the project going throughout 2017. To donate now and get some cool Ariel swag along the way, click here.

Interested in speaking? Or do you run an organization which would be interesting in partnering with us for future Talk17 events? Feel free to contact us through our contact page (link) and a representative will get back to you as soon as possible.