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

It’s a sad-looking protest. A few dozen members of Israel’s beleaguered treaty crusade mill around on a road in eastern jerusalem, impounding mansions in Arabic, English and Hebrew declaring:” Stop the occupation .” Older, well-dressed intellectual leftwingers with grey “hairs-breadth” and round sights mingle with a scruffier younger crowd.

One man with a cigarette dangling in his lip reverberates a cowbell. A few Israeli police look on with bored sayings. Traffic meanders by as ordinary. Everyone seems to know each other. Another person sitting on the side of the road gestures to a correspondent.” Do I have shit on my premier ?” he expects, gazing up for birds on power lines overhead.

This is part of what remains of the Israeli peace camp, crippled by a political arrangement that has careened wildly to the right. “Leftist” and “peacenik” are widely used as insulting innuendoes against an ever-embattled section of civilization who are increasingly on the fringe and slammed as traitors.

In an upcoming election, the issue of the Palestinians- formerly the center focus of Israeli politics- is often circumvented. A December poll knew while more than half of Jewish Israelis want peace negotiations, almost 75% believed they would fail. The group 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 propping 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 rallying, Pepe Goldman, an Argentinian Jew who emigrated to Israel in 1976, has affirmed ever since.” There is a process of burning out ,” he says on the sidelines.” Regrettably, 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 neglected strives, many Israelis are asking themselves whether treaty , not to mention a Palestinian district, is necessary when Gaza is entirely blocked off, the West Bank occupation is tightly oversaw, and their own economies is booming.

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

Despite thumpings by settlers and shrinking counts, he continues his activism every Friday.” We only live once. I could not forgive myself if I let 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, wide-ranging shoulders and weatherbeaten face paint a picture of a much older man. On many daytimes, 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 acquaintance is encyclopaedic. He appears to know the date of every village- and there are more than 140 with approximately 600,000 tenants- was established and how each one feigns the Palestinians living around it.

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

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

That is when the attacks on Breaking the Silence ramped up. Shaul reels off some from retention: an arson attempt on their roles; beings working undercover to infiltrate the organisation; a statute that was dubbed the” Breaking the Silence” bill to ban them from speaks in institutions; and a blood nose last summertime when a settler perforated him during a tour. Netanyahu even cancelled a gather with the German foreign minister after he told me that he would speak to the former troops.

One specially bitter occurrence resulted 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 vehicle gate-crash. Shaul was stunned but unsurprised.” When the defence minister calls you a sleuth, and the prime minister says you swept a red text, and the tourism pastor says you’re a traitor. People answer the bellow ,” he says.” Remember McCarthy? He’s alive and kicking and here in Israel .”

The columnist

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

Amira Hass drinkings a small whiskey in a barroom 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 on. But she cannot think of a single other Jewish Israeli journalist who lives here.

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

There used to be an ” apprehension” in culture,” 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 motion has succeeded in becoming a significant sector of society, the relevant recommendations of annexing the huge swaths of district 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 camps in Israel, Hass contributes, merely” the prize clique “.

The politician

Dr
Dr Yosef’ Yossi’ Beilin:’ Sometimes it[ peacefulnes] 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 viewed its own position in government, 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 deal that ultimately 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 campaigners, left politics this month after referendums indicated her tiny party would not make it into parliament again. In her result pronunciation, Livni said peacefulnes had become a ” dirty word “.

Beilin , now 70, says he promised to leave politics at 60 to allow a younger gang to accompany 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 peace is off the agenda. It is a primary part of the Israeli psyche, he debates.” 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 mischievously .”

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