Israeli peace camp

From Academic Kids

Template:Israelis The Israeli peace camp is a collection of political and non-political movements which desire to promote peace, mainly with the Arab neighbours of Israel (the Palestinians, Syria and Lebanon) and encourage co-existence with the Arab citizens of Israel.

The leadership and hardcore activists of the peace camp are mostly associated with the left wing, although the silent majority of supporters are from the political center and moderate securitist-left.

In this article, the term peace camp will refer to the leadership, the movements and hardcore activists (and not to the silent supporters). This term should not be confused with the UK concept of peace camp which refers to a different type of camp and political protest.


Political movements (but not parties)

The mainstream peace movement in Israel is Peace Now, whose supporters tend to vote for the Israeli Labor party, Meretz and Shinui. Peace Now's 1982 "400,000 rally" led to the end of the 1982 Peace for Galilee war and the establishment of the Kahan investigation committee which impeached Ariel Sharon for indirect responsibility for the Sabra and Shatila massacre committed by Christian Phalangas. Peace Now also advocated a negotiated peace with Palestinians. However, as for 2004, Peace Now main focus is a struggle against the Israeli settlements. Peace Now hostility toward the settlers and its lack of criticism on Palestinian terrorism decreaded its standing within the Israeli public. On March 19 2005, a pro-disengagement rally became an embarcing failure after only 10,000 people attendened the demonstration. The failure is mainly attribute to Yariv Oppemheimer (Peace Now's leader) inflammatory rethorics against the settlers and the radical left wing image which caused centerists centerists and mainstream public to refrain from supporting the rally. [1] (, [2] (,7340,L-3060422,00.html)

The Geneva Initiative, which was launched on 2003, tried to promote peace by showing both Israelis and Palestinians that peace accord could be nagotiated and presented a draft Permanent Status Agreement, which was nagotiated by public figures from both sides. However, both Israelis and Palestinian found the accord unacceptable and some even disputed the legitimacy of such move. As for 2004, the nagotiator are trying to convince the people that the agreement is good and not riskful and that there is a "partner for peace".

Gush Shalom is a radical leftist movement, and its classification as a peace movement is highly disputed. Uri Avneri, the Gush Shalom leader and a former journalist, was among the first to meet and nagotiate with PLO leader Yasser Arafat. Although Gush Shalom earned itself respect in Europe, it is regarded by most Israelis as a pro-Palestinian movement who supports violence and terrorism against Israelis. The movement itself hasn't been involved in direct terrorism but did publish several articles praising Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians.

Non-political organizations

There are many Projects working for peace among Israelis and Arabs in Israel. Most of the projects try to mediate between Jewish and Arab citizens within Israel, after the fragile co-existence was shattered by the violent October 2000 riots (13 Arabs, 1 Jew were killed) and the increasing involvement of Israeli-Arabs in terrorism against Israelis.

There were also some projects of peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The most notable are the "Peace Team" - a youth soccer team of 8 Israelis and 8 Palestinians, who compete in international youth football tournaments. This project is sponsered by Peres Center For Peace.

Another project is the "National Census" - a peace initiative by former Shin Bet head Ami Ayalon and Palestinian professor Sari Nusseibeh. The current activity of the National Census is to sign as many Israelis and Palestinian on a petition which outlines a two states solution without right of return of Palestinians into Israel. Ayalon tries to be avoided from being identified with the political left, because of the mutual hatred between the left and the majority of the Israeli public.

Political parties

In Israel, the left wing parties are identified with the peace camp, although that successful peace treaties were achieved only by right wingers (Menachem Begin, with Egypt) and securitist-centerist (Itzhak Rabin, with Jordan).

The traditional "peace lobby" in the Knesset is composed of the Israeli Labor Party and Yachad (former Meretz). Hadash is self-proclaimed Jewish-Arab communist co-existence party but recently abandoned the co-existence issue in favor of Arab nationalism when it ran to Knesset with Ahmed Tibi's Taal (National Arab Movement) under the religious campaign "Harram as-Sharif is in danger".

Arab parties are not considered as part of the peace camp, mainly because of their inflammatory rhetorics - which encourage hate and violence rather than co-existence.

The center-liberal party Shinui is not considered as a part of the peace camp, although it does support peace nagotiation. The reason is Shinui's hard-line approach toward Palestinian terrorism and Yasser Arafat. Also, the fact that Shinui supports Ariel Sharon's policy, a long-time hated figure by hardcore of the peace camp, prevents Shinui to join the peace camp leadership - which opposes Sharon.

Political power in the Knesset

Results of 2003 election to the Knesset (Israel's parliament) of the left wing parties and the Arab parties:

Totals: 36 mandates (out of 120). (28 Jewish, 8 Arab)


The Israeli peace camp is highly criticized for lacking realism given the absence of a corresponding movement on the Arab side of the conflict. It is also accused for being forgiving toward Palestinian terrorism and not being able to stand up for the rights of the Israelis and the vital interests of Israel. The Israeli peace camp has poor standings in the Israeli public, as regular surveys by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research ( show (for example: May 2004 ( The Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research is watching over the Israeli public opinion toward the peace process and the peace camp for more than a decade.

Ideological right wing

Criticism from the right is focused against the idealogy of the peace camp, claiming that the land for peace deal with the PLO terrorists is endangering the exsitance of Israel and will not lead to true peace. More over, they claim that that "land for peace" deal is morally unacceptable as it involves the uprooting of people from their houses (Israeli settlements). Right wingers suggested alternative peace plans in which the Palestinian refugees are either establish themselves in the Arab states ("transfer with agreement"), or remaining in their place, but be given a Jordanian citizenship.

The right wing also have hard criticism over the left's "partner" for "peace". They claim that "Arafat's terrorist Tunis gang" true intension is the destruction of Israel, and that the Oslo accords were actually a trojan horse. Following the al-Aqsa Intifada and the Fatah major involvement in terrorism against Israelis, many in the Israeli public agreed that the right were right in their criticism and warnings about the PLO.

Political center and pragmatists

The Israeli political center is composed from the moderate right, the liberals and the security-oriented left ( שמאל ביטחוני ). Their position toward the Israeli-Palestinian is pragmatic and derived from security and economy interests, rather than a dogmatic idealogy.

Criticism from the center says that the right was right about the PLO and currently Israel don't have a Palestinian partner for peace, at least not until Yasser Arafat is gone. However, the peace camp was right in the need to disengage from the Palestinians and need to give them a state of their own so they won't be a demographic and political burden over Israel. Many of this group are what the Israelis call "Oslo dissapointed" ( מאוכזבי אוסלו ) - people who used to support the peace process and the peace camp, until the al-Aqsa Intifada. This group favor unilateral actions to disenage from the Palestinians and widely support the Israeli West Bank barrier and Israel's unilateral disengagement plan of 2004.

Centerist usually refrain from voting to the left and support it publicly, since many of them believe that the left wing politicians (such as Yossi Beilin) are incapable of standing up for Israel's rights and fear that they might endanger Israel by trying to appease the Palestinians.

Zionist left wing

Criticism from the left is focused mainly on the "small details", since they still believe that land for peace and nagotiations with the Palestinians is the right way for peace. "Small details" that are criticized are:

  • The marketing of the peace process and the failure to gain wide public support.
  • Their negative attidute toward the Israeli Defence Forces and toward the settlers which creates them a "Jewish self-haters" reputation among the general public.
  • The lack of pro-Israeli rhetorics in the peace rallies.
  • The focusing on political arrangements while leaving the social and economic infrastructure for popular support at the hands of fundamentalist groups on both sides

Ami Ayalon, former head of the Shin Bet and the initiator of the National Census peace proposal (along with professor Sari Nusseibeh), has criticized Peace Now for demonizing the Jewish settlers, often treating them as "enemies", thus encouraging hate towards settlers, and providing the general public reasons to dislike the peace camp. Ayalon scorns Peace Now for failing to rally the masses in support of the Israeli Peace movement, although surveys indicate that the Israeli public supports a separation from the Palestinians and a peaceful solution. Ayalon explains that this because Peace Now and the left wing have shown alienation, hostility and a patronising attitude towards the general Israeli public, and that this attitude combined with increased terrorist activity over the past four years are to blame for Peace Now's current poor standing within the Israeli public, which feels the peace camp is not committed (enough) to stop Palestinian terrorism and protect Israel's interests.

Ayalon concluded that many settlements should indeed 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. [3] (, [4] (,7340,L-2916824,00.html)

Far left

Criticism from the far left criticized the adherence of the major movements (such as the Israeli Labor party and Peace Now) for Zionism and commitment toward Israel. They claim that the Oslo accords was a capitalist-Zionist fraud in order to exploit the Palestinians and deceive the world, while expanding the Israeli settlements and deepening the occupation. As the Israeli far left is very pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli, they think that true peace can only be achieved by a radical solution which include the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state: many of them offer bi-national state or a two-states solution with full or limited right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Example for such criticism, may found in Gush Shalom's review ( of the National Census "Statement of Principles (".

Moderate left wingers often blame the far left as a major reason for the bad image the Israeli peace camp has in the eyes of the Israeli public.


Political leaders

Leaders of organizations

Politicly affiliated peace activists

Peace activists without political affiliation

See also

Arab-Israeli peace diplomacy and treaties


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