The Peace Camp Rises Again

It took me some time to write about the wonderful experiance I had last Saturday in the demonstration in West Jerusalem. It was a very busy week for us in Peace Now, arranging the demo, spreading flyers, putting signs at nights etc. There was a lot of work waiting for me, coming back home after 2:00 pm from the demonstration(s) to start yet another regular week of work.

At least 2,500 people showed up in Zion Square in West Jerusalem to say: “Enough with the lie about the “United Jerusalem”; the settlements in East Jerusalem are not in the consensus,  and are not a real Israeli interest”. I am sure that Netanyahu (and some people back in the US) must hear the clear voice of a serious part of the Israeli public saying that the so called “freeze” in Jerusalem is actually an Israeli interest that should lead to the final status talks and eventually to a peace deal.

Another reason for my tiredness was that on Friday I went to the weekly Sheikh Jarrah demonstration. This is an amazing rise of young people that started to fight heroically against the settlements in East Jerusalem.  This time the police acted brutally against the demonstrators, and arrested 14 of us.  So, we went to the police station to escort them, and arranged for a demonstration in Saturday night in front of the Jerusalem Court, as they are brought to trial.

So this was the scene at the center of West Jerusalem last Saturday night: 2,500 “Peacenics” demonstrating at the Peace Now demonstration (arranged together with other groups), and another 300 “Peacenics” demonstrating 200 meters away, in front of the Jerusalem Court (After the first demonstration they are joined by hundreds). Such a scene we didn’t have in the last few years, especially not in the heart of Jerusalem. The two groups represent a very large scale of opinions in the Peace Camp: from the very Zionist and Blue&White flagged demonstrators, to the more radical, which has a different interpretation to the word “Zionist” that would feel as comfortable demonstrating under a Palestinian flag as well.

For the past few years, the Peace Camp in Israeli politics has been pretty well small. In fact, being part of Peace Now has felt a bit lonely; we are a Zionist organization, which is to say that we believe in Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.  We further believe that Israel’s unique status as a free and open democratic society in the Middle East endows the Israeli public with a special responsibility to promote the basic human rights of freedom, justice, and equality for all people in this region.  Therefore, we have long advocated an end to the occupation and to Jewish settlement outside the pre-1967 borders of the state of Israel.

But Saturday night’s rally(s) in Jerusalem was a clear signal that the tide has changed.  It was truly a milestone in the reawakening of Israel’s Peace Camp and was very exciting to be a part of.  All of the people there recognized that stopping the settlements actually makes Israel stronger, both morally and in terms of defense.  It has become obvious to even the most casual observer that the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem are not really part of a “united” Jerusalem; there is no consensus here about continuing the Jewish settlement of these areas and in fact most Israelis now recognize that continuing the settlement simply means continuing the conflict.

That the tide has turned was obvious not only from the large numbers of people who turned up for the rally but also from the political parties represented there.  On Saturday we had Meretz, Labor, the National Left, the Kibutz movement, and other political representatives joining with Israeli citizens proud to fly the Israeli flag and lend their voices to a new call for peace and progress.

5 Responses to The Peace Camp Rises Again

  1. Logan Dolan says:

    If only I had a buck for each time I came here! Incredible post.

  2. AvivVida says:

    At last! The sleeping public is starting to wake up from the lethal dose of fear and brainwash. Let’s hope it will open its eyes and see.see what has been done to it and what it has done to the Palestinians by way of its right twist government.

  3. Too slow. Especially now that JStreet has demonstrated the proper method. The left, those for who peace is preferable to another few thousand dunams of dirt, is scattered to the winds, left castrated by the current right-wing dominance of the political arena and of most of the media. It must follow JStreet’s lead in the creation of an umbrella organization in which all the far flung Israeli peace organizations are represented and to which all of them contribute.
    Without that critical mass, all that is left are journals with insubstantial distribution and “talkbacks” wherein the right-wing none the-less hurl their insults and hateful commetns.

  4. Dear Mrs Hagit Ofran,

    23 jewish People from Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Israel, had launched an Appeal to the Israeli Government. You will find it on the following Website:

    http://www.humanrights-in-israel.ch

    Till the end of February 2012, which means during the next about two years, we are looking for other Jews, who agree with our Appeal.
    Till now we’ve 1’381 signatures (see the list in our Website).

    If you agree you can sign the Appeal as a jewish individual. Please send our Websiteaddress to other open minded Jews you know.

    Best Regards and Shabbat Shalom,

    Jochi Weil-Goldstein, Initiator, Zurich

    (Since many years I’m working as Responsible for Medical Projects in Palestine and between Israel and Palestine at medico international schweiz, formerly Centrale Sanitaire Suisse CSS Zürich, http://www.medicointernational.ch (in German language). Also I’m active in the Olive Oil Campaign, http://www.olivenoel-palaestina.ch (also in English language).

    Up to now more than 1’380 Jews from different countries have signed the Appeal on the Website
    http://www.humanrights-in-israel.ch. Among them is Yael Dayan (Chairperson of the City Council Tel Aviv Yaffo, Israel); Brian Klug (Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford, UK);  Peter Lilienthal (Film-Director, Germany);  Ari Rath (Commentator of Politics and Current Affairs, former Editor of the Jerusalem Post, Israel);  Alice Shalvi (Winner of the Israel Prize 2007, Israel)  Jack Steinberger (Physicist, Nobel Prize-Winner, Switzerland); and Ralph Weill (Former Member of the Executive Federation of Jewish Communities in Switzerland SIG) and many others. We are pleased about the wide range of people from all walks of life coming from different places in the world. Every single signature is important! You can find the names in an alphabetic order on the Website. There is also a list of people put together with respect to their countries (see the attachment).
    In the face of the disastrous situation in the Middle East it is vital that we can collect more signatures in order for the appeal to be more significant. We therefore would be most grateful if you could draw the attention of your Jewish friends to the Website so that they may sign.

    With best Wishes,

    Shelley Berlowitz          Philippe Lévy          Jochi Weil

  5. Jacques says:

    Here is my dream:
    Two states lying peacefully side by side
    No more extremists on both side of the border
    Jerusalem settled as the Capital of Mankind and jointly administered by Palestinians and Israelis.
    No more violence nor humiliation nor brutality

    This would not remain a dream if those who locked themselves in their religious selfishness did land back on earth and see everybody as just a human being.

    Salam, Shalom
    My best wishes come with you.

    Jacques

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