Peacenik is widely used as a slur in Israel. Here four activists explain their demise and why they hold on

It’s a sad-looking protest. A few dozen members of Israel’s beleaguered serenity action mill around on a superhighway in eastern jerusalem, impounding clues in Arabic, English and Hebrew declaring:” Stop the occupation .” Older, well-dressed intellectual leftwingers with gray-haired “hairs-breadth” and round spectacles mingle with a scruffier younger crowd.

One man with a cigarette dangling in his lip sounds a cowbell. A few Israeli police look on with bored faces. Traffic meanders by as ordinary. Everyone seems to know each other. Another person sitting on the side of the road gestures to a journalist.” Do I have shit on my top ?” he asks, appearing up for chicks on power lines overhead.

This is part of what remains of the Israeli peace camp, crippled by a political arrangement that has lurched wildly to the right. “Leftist” and “peacenik” are widely used as dismissive insults against an ever-embattled section of culture who are increasingly on the periphery and threw as traitors.

In an upcoming election, the question of the Palestinians- formerly the central focus of Israeli politics- is often avoided. A December poll observed while more than half of Jewish Israelis want peace negotiations, almost 75% believed they would fail. The radical that led the survey results, the Israel Democracy Institute, said the peace issue has ” disappeared almost entirely from the Israeli public discourse “.

Four members of Israel’s beleaguered leftwing explain how this happened and why they are impounding on 😛 TAGEND

The protester

Pepe
Pepe Goldman:’ We simply live once. I could not forgive myself if I let this happen .’ Photograph: Quique Kierszenbaum/ The Guardian

One demonstrator at the rally, Pepe Goldman, an Argentinian Jew who emigrated to Israel in 1976, has complained ever since.” There is a process of burning out ,” he says on the sidelines.” Unfortunately, we are a small minority. Israelis are very, extremely …” he says, before restarting the sentence:” I would say they don’t give a shit about what is going on .”

After years of flunked struggles, many Israelis are asking themselves whether quietnes , not to mention a Palestinian district, is necessary when Gaza is entirely blocked off, the West Bank occupation is tightly oversaw, and the economy is booming.

The 67 -year-old no longer demonstrations to convince his fellow citizens. He comes for rather limited but concrete grounds- as an Israeli, with the extra rights under the law that entails, he was able to stand as a human shield for Palestinians who are facing forced evictions or criticizes from settlers.

Despite floggings by immigrants and lessening digits, he continues his activism every Friday.” We only live once. I could not forgive myself if I make all this happen .”

The repentant soldier

Yehuda
Yehuda Shaul:’ Remember McCarthy? He’s alive and kicking and here in Israel .’ Photograph: Quique Kierszenbaum/ The Guardian

Yehuda Shaul is 37, but his whitened beard, broad-spectrum shoulders and weatherbeaten face paint a picture of a much older man. On numerous periods, the Israeli ex-combat soldier is at the front of a bus, touring the West Bank to show Israelis and foreign visitors what the occupation looks like. The organisation he founded, Breaking the Silence, is made up of veterans who want to expose the reality of Israel’s grip over Palestinian life.

Shaul’s insight is encyclopaedic. He appears to know the date of every colonization- and there are more than 140 with nearly 600,000 residents- was set up how each one feigns the Palestinians living around it.

When Breaking the Silence firstly started after the violent second intifada, Shaul says his group was ” mainstream”- critical spokespeople, but one that arriving from the respected institution of the armed forces.” We had given the right to speak out .”

But after Benjamin Netanyahu made deals with hard-line religious patriots in 2015 to form the most rightwing coalition government in the country’s history, pro-settler troops flourished in power.

That is when the attacks on Breaking the Silence ramped up. Shaul reels off some from retention: an arson attempt on their agencies; parties working undercover to infiltrate the organisation; a principle that was dubbed the” Breaking the Silence” proposal to ban them from speaks in academies; and a viciou snout last-place summertime when a immigrant perforated him during a tour. Netanyahu even cancelled a gratify with the German foreign minister after he told me that he would speak to the former troops.

One especially fierce occurrence appeared after phone numbers of his colleague’s family members were posted online by a troll. Someone called her grandparents at 3am pretending to be a hospital worker to say she had died in a gondola gate-crash. Shaul was shocked but unsurprised.” When the defence minister announces you a spy, and the prime minister says you bridged a red cable, and the tourism diplomat says you’re a traitor. People answer the announcement ,” he says.” Remember McCarthy? He’s alive and kicking and here in Israel .”

The columnist

Amira
Amira Hass in 1999 … a new generation came to see you’ to regard this reality as normal’. Photograph: Don Mcphee/ The Guardian

Amira Hass liquors a small whiskey in a prohibit in Ramallah to fend off a coldnes. Behind her the famed 1936″ Visit Palestine” poster hangs on the wall. Since 1993, she has lived in the territories, first in Gaza and now in the West Bank. As an Israeli writer, she says you should reside in the place you write about. But she cannot think of a single other Jewish Israeli reporter who lives here.

Ending 51 -years of Israeli armed pattern is not an issue in this election, she says, because a new generation has come” to regard this reality as ordinary “.

There used to be an ” nervousnes” in society,” because there was still an understanding that there was a contradiction between our self-image as instructed, progressive, liberal, democratic, and the occupation. You had had a generation who knew what life was like before[ the occupation began in] 1967.”

As the settler action has succeeded in becoming a significant sector of society, the idea of annexing the enormous swaths of tract they have taken is rapidly becoming a mainstream idea, she says.” They are high middle class, they are savvy, they are in the military, they are in hi-tech .”

There is no longer pro- or anti-peace cliques in Israel, Hass contributes, precisely” the prevail camp “.

The politician

Dr
Dr Yosef’ Yossi’ Beilin:’ Sometimes it[ armistice] is the elephant in the chamber[ but] this is the real story of Israel .’ Photograph: Quique Kierszenbaum/ The Guardian

Yossi Beilin, the only one of the four to have nursed its own position in authority, is also the most optimistic. Much of his three decades of political life was in the pro two-state Labour party but also in Meretz, which is firmly anti-occupation. Both parties are now in decline. In the 1990 s, he was part of secret talks in Norway that led to the Oslo harmonizes, a framework to make a peace agreement that is likely stalled.

” There is a general feeling that there is nothing to do ,” he says.

Few descends like him remain in the Israeli parliament. The former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, one of the country’s most prominent peace counsels, left politics this month after referendums indicated her tiny party would not make it into parliament again. In her entrust communication, Livni said treaty had become a ” dirty word “.

Beilin , now 70, says he promised to leave politics at 60 to allow a younger army to return new ideas. But would he have retired if his pro-peace ideology had been more successful?” It’s a good question. Maybe not .”

Still, he disclaims peacefulnes is off the agenda. It is a primary one of the purposes of the Israeli psyche, he quarrels.” Sometimes it is the elephant in the area( but) this is the real story of Israel .”

Asked to explain his steadfast optimism, he replies:” Because we need it poorly .”

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