Man who negotiated Shalit’s freedom to speak at first open Harris lecture

Man who negotiated Shalit’s freedom to speak at first open Harris lecture

When Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit was released after five years of captivity by Hamas, the whole world noticed.

What the world knows little of were the negotiations that led to Shalit’s freedom.

The Israeli peace negotiator responsible for the soldier’s release, Gershon Baskin, will share the story behind this historic event when he appears as the guest speaker of the Milton E. Harris Interfaith Institute Annual Interfaith Luncheon and Lecture Feb. 1 at Rodef Shalom Congregation.

This year, for the first time, the public is invited to join in this luncheon event. In previous years, the lecture was reserved for members of the clergy.

A long line of diplomats and intelligence officers from Egypt, Germany, France, Turkey and other countries tried for more than five years to reach a deal between Israel and Hamas that would free the abducted soldier. The breakthrough came in May 2011 as a result of the work of Baskin, a veteran Israeli peace activist who contributed to opening a channel of communication between Hamas and David Meidan, the Mossad officer appointed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to bring Shalit home.

Baskin will present the details of the story behind the secret and direct channel of talks that he held with Hamas since the first week after Shalit’s abduction in June 2006.

Baskin holds a doctorate in international affairs from the University of Greenwich. He is a member of the steering committee of the Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum, member of the board of the Alliance for Middle East Peace and member of the editorial board of the Palestinian-Israeli Journal. He also is a member of the Israeli Council for Peace and Security.

Tickets can be purchased at or by calling 412-621-6566. This event is free to clergy, but there is a charge for the public. Reservations are required by Jan. 25.