Peace Now: Wikis

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Peace Now (Hebrew: שלום עכשיו - Shalom Akhshav) is a non-governmental organization[1] in Israel with the agenda of "swaying popular opinion and convincing the Israeli government of the need and possibility for achieving a just peace and a historic conciliation with the Palestinian people and neighboring Arab countries; this in exchange for a territorial settlement based on the formula of 'land for peace'".

Contents

History

Anwar Sadat's visit to Israel sparked hope for peace through concessions.

Following Anwar Sadat's visit to Israel in 1978, 348 Israeli military reserves officers petitioned Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin urging him to continue with the drive for peace. This petition led to the creation of Peace Now, a grassroots movement dedicated to raising public support for the "peace process."[2][3]

At a rally held in Tel-Aviv's Kikar Malkhei Israel, known today as Rabin Square, demonstrators called on Prime Minister Begin to sign a peace treaty with Egypt in exchange for the return of the Sinai peninsula.[citation needed]

Peace Now opposed the 1982 Invasion of Lebanon, holding a massive rally after the Sabra and Shatila Massacre.[citation needed]

On 10 February 1983, at a Peace Now demonstration in Jerusalem, a right-wing militant named Yonah Avrushmi tossed a hand-grenade at demonstrators, killing Peace Now activist Emil Grunzweig and injuring several others.[4][5][6]

Throughout the years of its activity Peace Now has opposed the building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which it perceives as being calculated to undermine the possibility of peace with the Palestinians.[citation needed]

The First Intifada was perceived by Peace Now as a political act, therefore the movement called for negotiations to be held with the Palestinians, aimed at putting an end to the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.[citation needed]

The signing of the Oslo accords marked a milestone in the activity of Peace Now, which has since strived to support governments that acted according to the "land for peace" formula, and demonstrate against governments that had different approaches to the peace process.[citation needed]

With the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada (2000 to present), support for the movement has waned, in light of what seems from a present perspective as the collapse of the peace process set into motion at Oslo.[citation needed]

Kibbutz member wearing Peace Now T-shirt.

In 2003, new initiatives aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were set into motion, such as the National Census and the Geneva Initiative, both of which are also based on the "land for peace" formula. Neither initiative is officially affiliated to Peace Now, though many of the same players have been involved in the various peace initiatives. The Geneva Initiative is identified with Yossi Beilin and the Yachad party; the National Census is identified with Ami Ayalon, who has deliberately kept this initiative separate from Peace Now in order not to damage support from the general public.[citation needed]

Peace Now's main activities for 2004 are monitoring Israeli settlement expansions and the establishment of illegal outposts by the Hilltop Youth. Peace Now was one of the main organizers of the Mate ha-Rov ("majority camp") demonstration in 2004, in support of Israel's unilateral disengagement plan of 2004 and withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Support for the withdrawal plan faced contention within the Peace Now camp over its unilateral nature. Ultimately, Peace Now decided it was most important to reduce occupied territory.

In 2005, as a response to a Yesha Council orange ribbon campaign, Peace Now launched a parallel blue ribbon effort in support of disengagement. On March 19, 2005, a pro-disengagement rally attracted 10,000 people. Since Israel's unilateral disengagement from Gaza, Peace Now has not organized any major effort to support any further withdrawals.[citation needed]

Settlement Activity

Peace Now is widely recognized for its Settlement Watch Committee, a group which follows settlement construction in the West Bank and publishes figures reporting the development of these communities. Dror Aktes headed this committee until 2007 when he was replaced by Hagit Ofran. Activities include:

  • Updates on settlement expansion by means of aerial photography
  • Publication of figures to the public and decision makers in Israel as well as around the world (American government officials often rely on data presented by Peace Now to judge whether Israel adheres to its promise of a settlement freeze)
  • Submission of cases to the court to evacuate outposts in the West Bank.

For example, Peace Now brought a case to the court to evacuate Amona (a settlement in the West Bank), among others.

Similarly, the movement continues activity on the ground in support of evacuation through demonstrations, vigils and other campaign activity.[citation needed]

Criticism and controversy

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Alleged defeatism and imbalance

The movement has been criticized by more conservative supporters of Israel who say that it lacks credibility given the alleged absence of a corresponding movement on the Arab side of the conflict.

Jerusalem Post has criticised what it describes as Peace Now's exclusive emphasis "on what Israelis should concede, as if our collective craving for peace alone can supernaturally overcome Palestinian intransigence, incitement, internal upheaval and the culture of violence." It says the organization, though it denies it, wants to push Israel back to the indefensible 1949 Armistice Lines, since it opposes any construction over the Green Line, including the retention of major settlement blocs such as Gush Etzion, Ma'aleh Adumim and Ariel. It also says that Peace Now "stands squarely outside the consensus" by favoring "joint sovereignty" over Jerusalem's Old City, and that it opposes only the "implementation" of the Palestinian "right of return," but not necessarily its affirmation.[7]

Alleged disregard of security

Ami Ayalon, former head of the Shin Bet and co-initiator of the National Census peace proposal (with Professor Sari Nusseibeh), has criticized Peace Now for what he describes as demonization of the Jewish settlers, thus encouraging hate towards settlers, and providing the general public reasons to dislike the peace camp.

Ayalon criticizes Peace Now for failing to rally the masses in support of the Israeli Peace movement. Ayalon also says that this is because Peace Now and the left wing have shown alienation and a patronizing attitude towards the general Israeli public, and that this attitude, combined with increased terrorist activity over the past four years, are the cause of what he described as Peace Now's unfavorability among the Israeli public, which, according to Ayalon, feels the peace camp is not committed enough to stop Palestinian terrorism and protect Israel's interests.

Ayalon also says that many settlements should be disbanded, but the transferred settlers should be embraced and receive support - both financial and moral - from the state and the public, and not being treated as enemies.[8]

Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon offered his view of Peace Now when asked about plans to dismantle the Bnei Adam outpost. "We again are dealing with the issue of the virus, Peace Now - the elitists, if you may - who have incurred great damage." The remark was subjected to much criticism, and Prime Minister Netanyahu distanced himself from it. Ya'alon, however, stood by his words.[9] A poll sponsored by IMRA found that 41 percent of Israelis felt that Peace Now had caused great damage to Israel, while 19 percent disagreed.[10]

On July 19, 2006, Amos Oz wrote in the Los Angeles Times:

The Israeli peace movement objects to the occupation and colonization of the West Bank. It objected to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 because the invasion was aimed at distracting world attention from the Palestinian problem. This time, Israel is not invading Lebanon. It is defending itself from daily harassment and bombardment of dozens of our towns and villages by attempting to smash Hezbollah wherever it lurks. The Israeli peace movement should support Israel's attempt at self-defense, pure and simple, as long as this operation targets mostly Hezbollah and spares, as much as possible, the lives of Lebanese civilians (not an easy task, as Hezbollah missile launchers are too often using Lebanese civilians as human sandbags).[11]

Financing by foreign governments

Peace Now has been criticized by some groups within Israel for receiving funding from sources such as the European Union for activities aimed at convincing nationalists to accept Peace Now's conception of peace.[12] In 2006, the European Union funds amounted to $1.2 million. In January 2008, Israel's Knesset passed a law requiring organizations to publicize financial contributions from foreign governments. This law was aimed specifically at Peace Now. David Bedein notes that the biggest donors have opposed Israeli presence in the West Bank and asserts the money they give Peace Now essentially serves those governments' foreign policy interests. He says that since Peace Now watches Israeli communities and IDF military installations in the West Bank, the organization is "in effect spying on Israel for foreign governments."[13]

In an editorial, the Jerusalem Post said that a lack of transparency marks Peace Now's financial dealings. It is funded through an educational NGO called Sha'al, which, according to its general secretary Yariv Oppenheimer, receives most of its funds from American Jews. Its annual budget is not known, and it provides no information concerning the amount of funds coming from foreign foundations.[7] Finding that Sha'al misrepresented its aims, the Registrar of Nonprofit Organizations decided to withdraw the certificate of proper administration from it.[14]

The Jerusalem Post editorial also said there is a lack of administrative accountability. "Israelis are asked to believe that a finely-tuned machine capable of running airborne surveillance over every nook and cranny of the West Bank operates quite informally, by consensus, under the auspices of university students and aging hippies."[7]

Misinformation about settlements

In a report, Peace Now said that "a large proportion of the settlements built on the West Bank are built on privately owned Palestinian land," including 86.4 percent of Ma'ale Adumim's land and 35.1 percent of Ariel's. Overall, the report said, "Palestinians privately own nearly 40% of the land on which settlements have been built."[15] This is contrary to information provided by the government, which says that no settlements are built on private Palestinian land.[16] CAMERA rebutted the Peace Now allegations.[17][18] In a subsequent report, Peace said that, according to officially released data, no more than 0.54% of Ma’ale Adumim's land was privately owned by Palestinians.[19][20]

The initial report also stated that 71.15 percent of the land in Revava was built on private Palestinian land. After complaints, Peace Now reduced the figure to 22 percent. Sued for libel in Jerusalem Magistrates Court by The Fund for Redeeming the Land, who formally owns Revava's land, Peace Now was convicted and ordered to pay the Fund 20,000 NIS and to make a public apology in the newspapers Haaretz and Maariv.[21][22]

Alleged infiltration of Knesset building

In October 2009, Peace Now's General Secretary Yariv Oppenheimer was barred from entering the Knesset building after he sent Peace Now activists posing as students there. The activists' goal, according to the Jerusalem Post, was to persuade conservative MKs to make statements that would be used in a documentary film to show the Israeli right in a negative light. Oppenheimer said the decision was an attack on free speech since "everyone who was interviewed knew that he was being interviewed in front of a camera", and Peace Now called it an "attempt to punish the movement in the place which is supposed to guard freedom of movement for all of society".[23]

See also

References

  1. ^ Peace Now in Hebron: Expel settlers from city - Israel News, Ynetnews
  2. ^ Peace Now : About > About Us
  3. ^ Peace Now : About > About Us
  4. ^ "Thousands attend Israeli's funeral". The New York Times. 1983-02-12. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FA0A1FF63F5F0C718DDDAB0894DB484D81. Retrieved 2007-08-25. 
  5. ^ Shipler, David K. (1983-02-16). "A crude shrine rises at spot where bomb halted protest". The New York Times. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F50711FD3E5F0C758DDDAB0894DB484D81. Retrieved 2007-08-25. 
  6. ^ Shipler, David K. (1984-01-29). "Israel begins to note Jewish terrorism". http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F40715F63D5F0C7A8EDDA80894DC484D81. Retrieved 2007-08-25. 
  7. ^ a b c Peace Now at 30 Jerusalem Post editorial, April 7, 2008.
  8. ^ [1](Hebrew)
  9. ^ Attila Somfalvi: Netanyahu: Ya'alon remarks unacceptable Ynetnews.com, August 19, 2009.
  10. ^ Dr. Aaron Lerner: Poll: Peace Now has caused great damage to the State of Israel 41%:19% IMRA, August 26, 2009.
  11. ^ Caught in the crossfire Los Angeles Times, 19 July 2006.
  12. ^ [2] (Hebrew)
  13. ^ Hillel Fendel: 'Peace Now' Will Have to Publicize EU Contributions Israel National News, January 17, 2008.
  14. ^ Dan Izenberg: Peace Now loses registrar's approval Jerusalem Post, 11 February 2008.
  15. ^ Dror Etkes & Hagit Ofran: Breaking the law in the West Bank - One violation leads to another: Israeli Settlement Building on Private Palestinian Property Peace Now, October 2006.
  16. ^ Israeli Settlements and International Law Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May 20, 2001.
  17. ^ Alex Safian: Peace Now’s Report on Settlement Land CAMERA, November 22, 2006.
  18. ^ Alex Safian: UPDATE: Peace Now Map Based Only on Palestinian Claims CAMERA, December 2, 2006.
  19. ^ Shragai, Nadav (2007-03-14). "Peace Now: 32% of land held for settlements is private Palestinian property". Haaretz. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/837695.html. Retrieved 2009-07-06. 
  20. ^ Alex Safian: Peace Now’s Blunder: Erred on Ma'ale Adumim Land by 15,900 Percent CAMERA March 16, 2007.
  21. ^ "שלום עכשיו יפצו מתנחלים ב-20 אלף ש' [Peace Now to compensate settlers w/ 20 thousand sheqel]" (in Hebrew). nrg Maariv. 2008-12-14. http://sports.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART1/825/141.html. Retrieved 2009-07-06. 
  22. ^ Alex Safian: Israeli Court: Peace Now Lied, Must Pay Now CAMERA December 23, 2008.
  23. ^ Oppenheimer banned from Knesset Jerusalem Post, October 26, 2009.

External links


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