Peace Now on the run

Posted: October 26th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Left, The Right, The Settlements | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments »

peace nowThe right wing is recently running an extremely successful campaign to de-legitimize Peace Now, the once powerful left wing grassroots movement.

A few weeks ago, the deputy for PM Benjamin Netanyahu, minister Moshe “Bugy” Yaalon (Likud), referred to Peace Now as “a virus, which causes the state great damage”. Today, following a bizarre incident in which three Peace Now activists (Update: see Amitai’s comment below) tried to conduct a mock interview with the most extreme MK in the Knesset, Michael Ben-Ari – a friend and a student of the late Rabbi Meir Kahana – the Knesset’s chairman, MK Rubi Rivlin (Likud), forbid Peace Now Director-General Yariv Oppenheim from entering the Israeli parliament. Meretz party – which was always close to Peace Now – has filed an official protest n this matter.

Peace Now was formed by IDF veterans in the late seventies. Its glory days were in the early eighties, when it led the protest against the war in Lebanon and the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The Peace Now rally in Rabin square (then Kikar Malchey Israel square) following the massacre in Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in 82′ was the largest demonstration in Israel’s history (pic below), and ultimately led to the resignation of Defense Minister Ariel Sharon. The movement became less active in the nineties, probably because many of its ideas, like negotiating with the PLO and committing to territorial concessions, were adopted by Rabin’s government. In the last decade, Peace Now dealt mainly with monitoring the expansion of settlements – an activity which supposed to be in line with the Israeli consensus.

headline following the big peace now rally in tel aviv, 1982

Peace Now was always considered a part of the Israeli left, but nobody serious ever questioned its legitimacy. It always proud itself for remaining an exclusively Zionist movement, who supported most of Israel’s military actions and objected the refusal movements, such as Yesh Gvul (יש גבול) and Ometz Lesarev (אומץ לסרב). It appears that all these distinctions don’t help Peace Now anymore. They are condemned as traitors just the same.

While this is definitely another example for the slippery slop the Israeli democracy is currently on (it’s the occupation, stupid), the de-legitimization of the Israeli left should serve as a lesson for its leaders and supporters. One cannot build an exclusive left, or an exclusive civil rights movement. By leaving its natural partners – the Arabs – behind, and instead trying to win some sort of competition in patriotism with the political right, Peace Now took part in creating the atmosphere and the mechanism that led to its downfall.

This is not going to change in the future. I don’t think there will be a comeback of the old Zionist left, the one many people want so badly to see. Call it what you like – a National Left, The New Movement (the name Meretz tried to re-brand itself with) or whatever other name your copywriters can come up with, without the Arabs – and without thinking about an alternative model for the relations between the Jewish majority and the large Palestinian minority – it simply won’t work.

7 Comments on “Peace Now on the run”

  1. 1 Amitai Sandy said at 6:20 am on October 26th, 2009:

    I agree of course, just a small correction: the 3 interviewers were not Peace Now activists but a crew working for a private, commercial production firm. Peace Now only asked for, and got, permission to distribute some clips from the project.

  2. 2 Ori said at 7:51 am on October 26th, 2009:

    Just wondering – any idea why the Russian in the Peace Now logo is a transliteration of the Hebrew rather than a translation as for English and Arabic?

  3. 3 noam said at 8:15 am on October 26th, 2009:

    ori – no idea, i noticed it myself but didn’t figure it out.

  4. 4 Dimi said at 1:58 pm on October 26th, 2009:

    Because in Russian the name sounds even worse.

  5. 5 Mo-ha-med said at 5:00 pm on October 26th, 2009:

    I wondered about that too! And “Mir seitchash” doesn’t sound any worse. :)

    What do you mean by “…who supported most of Israel’s military actions”? Aren’t Peace Now in general anti-war? (cf. the anti-Lebanon war rally you mention?)

  6. 6 noam said at 4:53 am on October 27th, 2009:

    Mohamed – I don’t remember PN taking a stand against a war when it started, only after a while. The rally was about the Sabra and Shatila massacre and at a point when it was clear that the war went far beyond what was told to the public.

  7. 7 Yoni said at 9:56 pm on October 29th, 2009:

    “” One cannot build an exclusive left, or an exclusive civil rights movement. By leaving its natural partners – the Arabs – behind, and instead trying to win some sort of competition in patriotism with the political right “”


    This is why I and those like me voted Hadash .