Remembering Yehudah Paz

Dr. Yehudah Paz, a dear friend and colleague, stalwart supporter of SID and a co-Chair of the SID Israel Chapter recently passed away after a brief illness. It is only fitting that the Society pay tribute to his achievements and honor his memory. SID’s former Secretary General, Roberto Savio shares his memories of times spent with Dr. Paz, his seemingly inexhaustible energy, his inspiration, vision and tireless commitment - both within SID and beyond - to the achievement of peace and justice. With his demise, SID loses an important historical figure, and here the Secretariat wishes to bid him farewell by reminding us all of his work as a model and source of inspiration.

With Dr. Yedhudah Paz's death, SID loses a very important historical figure.

During my ten years as Secretary General, Yehudah was one of the main leaders in debate of ideas and search for a global governability. He was constantly pushing the Society to be an important player in the dialogue between Palestinians and Israeli. I remember a long trip in Jerusalem, to sponsor the creation of a Palestinian Chapter, who could then interchange with our Israeli Chapter. Dr. Paz idea was to open a 'People to People' process, which could avoid the institutional blockage. We did plan a meeting at the United Nations, where the  two chapters could meet, as civil society, and identify some projects in the area of environment, women cooperation, culture and grass-root participation, as bridges for the dialogue. The then Secretary General of the UN, Boutros Boutros Ghali, did support the idea, and offered to host a meeting of the two chapters with various agencies of the UN, coordinated by UNDP, to debate the projects, and fund them. Unfortunately, the relations in 1995 between the two official structures went into a very low period, and this conference was never held, because it was felt that this would amount to a recognition of the chapters as official delegations.

I am sure that, if Yehudah Paz idea was not ahead of the time, dialogue between citizens on implementation of projects of common interest would have been very profitable, and would have led to better relations.

Yehuda always brought with him the optimism of the reason, with a very striking sense of humor, and the ability to bring his interlocutors in his world and ideas. He was a strong champion of peace and international cooperation; and it was challenging and stimulating to have him in the Board of SID. It was unavoidable to become a personal friend, and dream together with him. I also met him later, in my new job at the International Labour Organization, where he come to present new ideas for the labour situation in Israel. He was always engaged on several fronts at the same time, thanks to his inexhaustible energy, and his constant effort to make his dreams reality.

SID and the international community have lost an historic leader, in a world where we have less and less of such personalities.

Roberto Savio

Former Secretary General of SID and founder and President Emeritus of IPS - Inter Press Sevice.