A reflection and goodbye from Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man, +972 Magazine’s outgoing editor-in-chief.
When I began working at +972 Magazine nearly seven years ago, I was the organization’s first full-time employee. It was the eve of the 2013 Israeli elections, and looking back all these years later, things felt very different.
True, Netanyahu had already been prime minister for a few years but Ehud Barak was his main partner and Tzipi Livni would join him a few weeks later. The world was just learning who Naftali Bennett was. The Kerry peace process hadn’t yet spectacularly imploded — it hadn’t even begun. The Palestinian popular protests against the wall — and the joint struggle — were a weekly source of inspiration.
The biggest difference between then and now is that back then, hope was a lot easier to find. On the heels of Israel’s social justice movement, for many Israelis there existed a lofty idea of what might be possible. There was a peace process to speak of, and although many of us here at +972 Magazine were among its loudest critics and skeptics, even Benjamin Netanyahu still claimed to support Palestinian statehood. The most horrible summer most of us can remember, the summer of 2014, hadn’t yet happened. The Dawabshe family still existed.
The list of tragic and deflating developments could go on and on, and indeed it does. But there have also been moments of great — and small — hope. For me, much of that hope could be found in grassroots movements that refuse to give up.
There was the protest movement that halted the Prawer Plan, the largest forced displacement of Palestinians planned by Israel at least since 1967. There were the years of protests and organizing that fought back Israel’s policies toward African refugees and ultimately stopped their mass deportation. And although it was subverted and ended in a massacre, a grassroots movement in Gaza reminding the world that real men, women, and children live there (the Great March of Return) was one of the boldest and bravest initiatives to challenge the status quo that I’ve ever seen.
And then there is one of the biggest changes, the hardest to pinpoint or see, and which only history will be able to judge: the long-time-coming transformation of the way the world talks about Israel-Palestine, the...Read More