|October 2000 - Return to Complete Index MiddleEast.Org 10/07/00|
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This MER FlashBack quite relevant as background to the situation today:
THE REAL "PEACE NOW"
Always a symantic twist and trick
MER - WASHINGTON - 10/5/98:
"Peace Now" has always been a semantic twist amd trick. Born in the days when Israel's Labor Party had lost power to Likud around the time of Camp David, "Peace Now" was from the start a Labor Party creation with a number of purposes. In Israel "Peace Now" let the Labor Party test the waters for various steps being contemplated without the Party itself having to be on board. It also, most importantly, allowed leaders of the Labor Party to control and manipulate the left on their path to what became Oslo.
In the other country crucial to Israel, the U.S., "Peace Now" has badly manipulated both the media and wealthy American Jews, co-opting both into indirectly support the Labor Party and outmanuevering indigenous American Jewish groups who lacked the resources to compete with the "Peace Now" juggernaut. "Peace Now" has been used to specifically target many liberal and wealthy American Jews, especially in Hollywood, siphoning away their money and energy from other organizations and concerns far more deserving and badly in need of their resources.
Many good and unknowing people have gotten caught up in this duplicity; persons such as Richard Dreyfus, Ed Asner, Barbara Streisand, Jimmy Klutznick, and quite a host of others who have never really understood how they were being used and manipulated. Not only have they gotten tax exemptions all these years by giving to "Peace Now", rather than directly to Israel's Labor Party; but doing so has also been quite socially and politically safe, easy, and non-controversial as well.
This insightful article by a contributor to MER from Israel helps explain what is really going on in Israel these days with what is termed the Israeli "left", the Israeli "Peace Movement".
ISRAELI ROCKERS HOLD BENEFIT CONCERT FOR "DEMOLISHED" PALESTINIANS
While the Israeli "left" is mired in anxiety and
false hopes, punk rockers in Tel-Aviv show the way.
[MER - Tel Aviv - 8/28]
Two days ago the Israeli media was full of analysis stemming from Arafat's comment that he would agree to a 10 per cent withdrawal plus some kind of nature reserve. The statement was made at an event in Oslo to commemorate the signing of the accords. Netanyahu refused to attend, even after the Norwegian foreign minister practically begged him, so Peres took his place at the table. The irony was lost on most Israelis; Arafat, Peres and the Norwegian host mugging for the cameras, while Netanyahu remains in charge.
The media frenzy was symptomatic not of the news value of Arafat's statement, but rather the incredible thirst for any positive news regarding Oslo that exists among Israel's mostly pro-peace journalists. The spectrum of opinion from Meretz to Labor clings foolishly to the notion that if only the Accords are implemented, then peace would again be at hand - as it was under Peres and Rabin. To this end, Labor Party leader Ehud Barak is still willing to discuss a national unity government. By today of course, both the Israelis and the Palestinians are lowering everyone else's expectations, and the make-believe peace process suffers yet another blow.
However, if one peers closely at the small part of the Israeli left that has kept its integrity, one can find younger and cooler heads at work. To meet them, one must go past the array of parties and political groups, over the heads of the professional NGO meisters, and beyond the traditional human rights organizations. There you can meet J.M., an activist with the 'IsraHell Collective' and the 'Human Rights Defenders Team.'
J.M. calls himself an 'Anarchist' and has a part time job with a Palestinian theater troupe. He and his friends visited the al-Atrash family home six weeks ago for the first time, and came back burning with the need to so something that will highlight the injustice of house demolitions - and the occupation in general - to a hip young Tel-Aviv milieu. Last night they held a benefit concert for the al-Atrash family "and the victims of the Occupation in general" at the Left Bank club in Tel-Aviv. The event included punk rock and hardcore bands, a spoken word performance piece, videos of house demolitions, and calls for action by human rights groups actually doing something.
Worth mentioning is that the only band name that is printable in polite company is 'Deir Yassin,' named after the massacre in 1948. Lead singer F.G. explained to me that every time someone hears the name and asks why it was chosen, he can explain the history of that massacre, and similar ones known to have occurred. For the audience, mostly aged 15-18, this is an important political lesson that can counteract the lies usually told in high school history classes. During the performance F.G., spoke about the recent killing of a Rabbi in Hebron. "If that’s what it takes to get them to leave, so be it."
The activists, audience, and connections made at yesterday’s event won't
be of much use to the usual crowd of pro-peace Israelis. The message and
the presentation can't be swallowed or digested by those with an interest
in promoting the "Netanyahu-bad, Oslo-good" forces. Of the dozen or so
organizers, only two have honorable discharges from the Israeli army, with
the rest carrying mental health discharges, fictitious marriages, conscientious
objector status, and other get-out-of-army-free passes. Based on past experience,
a large part of the audience is likely to follow that course of no-holds
The performance piece feature an actor who pretended to be a consultant for the ‘Institute of Psychological Defense.’ In his lecture, he counseled soldiers to hate Palestinians, who are forcing sensitive youth to commit horrible acts, for the moral difficulties they are causing by not simply going away. In reference to Palestinian children, he explained: "they aren’t the victims. We are! How dare they take that away from us!" After the show a 15 year old boy came up to the actor and congratulated him on his show: "I wasn’t hot about joining the army before this evening…. But now, I realize I’d have to be crazy to let myself be drafted!"
Interspersed between the bands were video clips of the destruction of the al-Atrash family home, and the subsequent beating and arrest of Mrs. Al-Atrash and her daughter. The effect of rock bands playing protest music underneath a video collage of Israeli troops beating un-armed Palestinians into a pulp, with Netanyahu’s voice in the background stating over and over again that "the State of Israel is opposed to the use of terror" had a strong effect, and was one of the highlights of the evening.
Sadly, the energy and political wisdom of these activists has no home
able to provide leadership and support. The bankrupt and wishy-washy left
making most of the noise today has discredited itself long ago. What remains
is for followers of the 'do-it-yourself' strategy to trust themselves,
and find ways to avoid being co-opted by more powerful forces. Around 150
people attended the show, listening to the music, talking about the issues,
and in some cases signing up to help the organizations who produced the
event. $400 were raised for the al-Atrash family, who are due to receive
a visit from some strange looking guests in a few days.
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