Avshalom Vilan

  • Fall 2014
Avshalom "Abu" Vilan, co-founder of the internationally acclaimed Israeli peace movement, PEACE NOW, is a veteran Israeli peace activist, kibbutz manager and educator, as well as a veteran in the most elite commando unit in the IDF. Vilan is a member of Knesset for the Meretz Party.
A member of Kibbutz Negba, where he was born in 1951, Vilan served in a special unit of the Israeli Defense Forces before joining with others reserve soldiers in 1977 to found Israel's first active peace movement. He served Peace Now as press liaison officer, represented the organization at international colloquia and meetings with heads of state in Israel and abroad, and functioned as a key spokesperson for the movement.
Between 1977 and 1980, Vilan served the Kibbutz Artzi Federation of Kibbutzim as director of the KAF's Young Adults Division. He was also an educator and secretariat member for the Federation. In 1984, he graduated from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem with a B.A. in Economics and Philosophy; and from 1984 to 1988, he served as Economics Manager for Kibbutz Negba, directing all economic enterprises and educational services, and overseeing the establishment of "Hamei Yoav", a hot spring spa resort. 
From 1990 to 1992, he was General Secretary of Mapam, and in 1992 was Co-Director of the elections campaign for Meretz – a coalition of Mapam, Ratz, Shinui, and other progressive political parties (which resulted in the election of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin).
From 1993 to 1996 Vilan was the main "Shaliach" (emissary) of Hashomer Hatzair Youth Movement - Kibbutz Artzi to North America and represented the Meretz coalition.
In 1996, Vilan was elected in national primaries as the General Secretary of KAF (Kibbutz Artzi Federation) He merged the two Kibbutz movements TAKAM and KAF into one: The Kibbutzim Movement.
In 1999, Vilan was elected to the 15th Knesset as a member of the Meretz Party. He was a member of the Finance Committee, the Immigration and Absorption Committee and the Joint Committee on the Defense Budget.
In 2003, Vilan was elected to the 16th Knesset as a member of the Meretz Party. He was a member of the Finance Committee, the Joint Committee on the Defense Budget and the Economic Affairs Committee.
 In 2006, Vilan was elected to the 17th Knesset as a member of the Meretz party. He was a Member of the State Control Committee, the Finance committee, the defense budget committee. Vilan was also the head of the agriculture lobby and the head of the reserved soldiers lobby.
Today he is the chairman of the Israeli agriculture association.
Vilan's wife, Naomi, is a professional educator and school principal. They have two children: Avner and Itamar, which serves as an officer in an elite unit in the IDF.