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The peace process: Where are the grassroots movements?

The Israeli debate over the Kerry initiative has an unpleasant top-down feeling to it.

By Tal Schneider

Yesh Atid's campaign for seperation from the Palestinians, displayed on a Tel Aviv billboard (photo: Tal Schneider)

Yesh Atid’s campaign for seperation from the Palestinians, displayed on a Tel Aviv billboard (photo: Tal Schneider)

Is it only me who feels that the debate regarding a possible peace agreement with the Palestinians exists mostly among PR companies (from both sides), copywriters and graphic designers? I feel that there is zero grassroots activity and a maximum amount of billboards.

The fight between different advertisers was featured prominently on the front page of Haaretz on Wednesday, January 29th. On the upper left corner one can see the new campaign by Breaking the Impasse, under the title  “A strong state signs a deal,” which has been accompanied by its own billboard campaign. On the bottom, we have an advertisement by The Joint Headquarters, which supports coalition members who oppose a Palestinian state.

Haaretz's front page on January 29 2014

Haaretz’s front page on January 29 2014

The video war is also on its way. The following is a new video released by the Joint Headquarters, which targets Likud members and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Danny Dayan, chairman of the Yesha Council (an umbrella organization of municipal councils of Jewish settlements in the West Bank), was very unhappy with this one, by the way [Hebrew].

On the other hand, leftist think tank Molad – which prepared the investigation for Channel 2 news on the regional council of the settlement of Efrat, and the way Israeli taxpayer money is channeled to Yesha Council campaigns against government policies – is promoting the video, which features the Channel 2 report [Hebrew].

Molad has a graphic/new media/PR arm called 61, which accompanies news developments with Facebook banners and graphics.

Graphically, there is no doubt that these are polished materials. The latest word in graphic design and user experience – or whatever the latest name for triggering the reader’s raw nerves is. But how long can one conduct a public debate in this manner?

One can add a somewhat artificial move by the Yesh Atid party to the ongoing billboard war: sending their Knesset members and party activists into the streets, carrying signs which read “separating for peace.”

Yesh Atid's campaign for seperation from the Palestinians, displayed on a Tel Aviv billboard (photo: Tal Schneider)

Yesh Atid’s campaign for seperation from the Palestinians, displayed on a Tel Aviv billboard (photo: Yesh Atid)

It is all photographed too well – it rhymes and and fits the message perfectly. It is all well-financed, well-orchestrated and well-organized. Yet it tastes like plastic, and I think I know why it doesn’t seem real: because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not communicate a real desire for change to the public. And Finance Minister Yair Lapid does not speak to his constituency at eye level on this issue. Even the screaming of Naftali Bennett doesn’t seem genuine, but rather a part of the usual game of spins.

Tal Schneider is a political reporter. This post appeared in Hebrew on Tal’s blog, the Plog, and was translated with the author’s permission.

+972 Magazine’s special coverage of the diplomatic process
Opinion: Peace groups should criticize Kerry too

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    1. Kolumn9

      The Israeli government gives money to the Yesha Council. Foreign organizations and governments send money to Molad. Which one has more credibility with Israeli voters?

      The whole enterprise of trying to sponsor the Israeli left by foreign governments and organizations is a terribly big mistake. Every left-wing organizations can now easily, and justifiably, be painted as a contractor or agent for foreigners.

      The truth is that there is zero belief in the likelihood of an actual peace accord among the Israeli population. This is true on both the left and on the right. As such there is no particular reason why there would be any grassroots activity. On the left the most active people are the ones that basically hate Israel and dislike the outlines of a possible agreement because it contradicts their view that Israel is always guilty and should be dismantled. They aren’t going to be protesting for an agreement that in their eyes strengthens Israel. On the right no one really believes that there will be an agreement, so there is little point in protesting against it.

      Reply to Comment
      • Danny

        “Which one has more credibility with Israeli voters?”

        You mean those brain-washed zio-bots, 90% of whom vote the way they’ve been taught by their zionist masters?

        As a left-winger, I don’t care about credibility from the average Israeli voter. They can continue to vote any way they wish, and I’ll continue to call for their country’s boycott until it adheres to international law. Perfect democracy.


        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          Spoken like the true fascist hiding behind every leftist that waxes eloquent about democracy until they get outvoted. Then, all means are legitimate, like external boycotts, and murdering Israeli civilians, as supported by your fellow traveller Larry Derfner.

          This is also why you can’t win. Every time people like you speak they demonstrate the contempt with which “Israeli leftists” hold Israel and Israelis.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn 9, these are your own words in the comments section of my story on settler violence: “Palestinian militias are justified in targeting Israeli soldiers and Israeli military institutions.” You publicly justify the deliberate killing by Palestinians of young Israelis in uniform, and now you preach about treacherous leftists? I know you don’t have the balls to identify yourself, so I won’t ask your name. But whoever you are hiding wherever you hide, you’re a laugh.

            Reply to Comment
          • Danny

            I don’t have contempt for Israelis. Rather, I have much pity for them, as I consider them to be victims of zionism as well.

            Just thinking of all those poor 18-year-olds getting conscripted this year makes me sad for them, and happy for my own kids that they don’t have to go through the zionist military machine that transforms young Israelis into heartless killing and occupying robots.

            Those 18-year-olds are no less victims than the Palestinians they will brutalize in the OPT over the next 3 years.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            If this:

            “You mean those brain-washed zio-bots, 90% of whom vote the way they’ve been taught by their zionist masters”

            is not contempt nothing is.

            Reply to Comment
          • Danny

            Sorry, but it’s a statement based in fact. The Adam Verete case shows this very clearly.

            Reply to Comment
          • Danny

            By the way, the fascist is the one who tries to impose his will by force upon those who disagree with him – even if they are a minority.

            Democracy is not just about a majority rule, it’s also about right of dissent for the minority. In this regard, Israel is a complete failure as a democracy.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            You don’t care about the wishes of the overwhelming majority and wish to impose upon them your minority views. How is that not fascist? Would you prefer anti-democratic, authoritarian or dictatorial instead?

            Reply to Comment
          • Vadim

            1. “brain-washed zio-bots”. Wow. Just wow.
            2. Why would the “Zionist military machine” turn young Israelis into “heartless killing and occupying robots” when they are already “brain-washed zio-bots”.

            Danny, you are no liberal. You are a close minded self-righteous extremist that happens to be on the left. It is people like you, from right and left, from both sides of the conflict – that don’t allow us to reach a sane compromise. Extremist to which the world is black and white, blinded by contempt and hatred to all those that don’t share their opinion.

            Reply to Comment
          • Average American

            I’m glad you admit you are in favor or sane compromise. Would you say Lieberman’s plan is sane compromise?

            Reply to Comment
    2. Rehmat

      All the so-called “peace process” during the last four decades – were buy time for Israel to grab more Palestinian land.

      Zionist regimes never liked to live with an independent Palestinian state next door. One can judge by the moronic response John Kerry received from Netanyahu and his two cabinet ministers on the weekend. Kerry was accused of making a non-kosher statement that if Israel doesn’t accept a Palestinian state along its borders – it will face more boycotts from the international community.


      Reply to Comment
    3. Tal, ya gotta get out of Tel Aviv….
      Here’s an article I wrote about one of the grassroots leaders of Leading Leaders for Peace, which has had monthly marches for peace the last 5-6 months. Each time, there are 2-300 each of West Bank Palestinians and Israelis: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/yes-boogie-there-are-palestinian-partners-for-peace-2/
      They (Leading Leaders for Peace) also have a great Facebook page you can search for.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        Couple hundreds of starry-eyed Unicorn-riding Palestinian and Israeli peace-lovers who represent no-one but themselves can hardly be considered as a negotiations or peace partner, unless Bibi is bored and has to talk to anyone.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Average American

      We in USA can see further evidence that Jews are separatists and don’t want anybody but other Jews around them. Janet Yellen is confirmed today as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, a privately-owned for-profit bank that controls USA economy by its whim, and doesn’t feel like it has to tell us where the trillions of bailout money went, and has never allowed a non-Jew on its Board of Governors.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Marcos

      AA, you are a willfully ignorant bigot.

      Reply to Comment
      • Average American

        I speak the facts.

        Reply to Comment
    6. Vadim


      I rarely agree with your articles, but I find them interesting and sometimes thought provoking. I like reading other opinions and I try to be as open as possible to opinions that differ from mine.

      That said, I can’t understand how you let the trash that Average American or Rehmat write remain. Moreover, I don’t understand how you can spare the time to answer Kolumn or XYZ but write nothing in response to them. It hurts me to see any of their hateful comments remain unanswered, I hate the thought that someone may think there’s nothing to say in response.

      Reply to Comment
      • Vadim

        This was meant to be a response to Larry’s comment.

        Reply to Comment
    7. The Trespasser

      Oh, there are grass movements: Hamas, Tanzim, Islamic Jihad, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, PFLP-GC and DFLP.

      Apparently, Palestinian majority is too preoccupied with armed struggle.

      Reply to Comment
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