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Peace Now anti-war rally expresses (gasp) love for Israel

Check out this video of a Peace Now demonstration against the war in Gaza. Yariv Oppenheimer. Peace Now’s current honcho, explains the point of the rally:

We are here because we care about the [Israeli] soldiers. We are here because we care about the residents of southern Israel. And yes, we are here because we care about the Palestinians that live inside Gaza…Our Zionism and our love of our own country does not make us blind or bloodthirsty or warmongers.

There are those who believe his last sentence expresses a contradiction in terms, that he is deluding himself if he thinks his love for the Jewish state can be associated with anything other than the worst crimes imaginable. I beg to differ. That’s another reason why I’m feeling lonely amidst fellow critics of the war…

24 thoughts on “Peace Now anti-war rally expresses (gasp) love for Israel

  1. It’s looking more like it’s either one or the other the longer this conflict continues. Unfortunately, the Israeli left seems unable to prove that it can be effective when needed. I mean, even the Arab parties have now been banned from the next election. Can the Israeli left be saved?

  2. There are MANY twists and turns happening among thinking people on Israel, none conclusive nor hopeful that I’ve read.

    Hamas and Israel remain steadfast and fear compromising, I expect largely because of their fears of how their constituents will react to the “betrayal” of compromise.

    Dissenters are flipping all over the board. Tom Segev yesterday wrote that he has given up on peace, that it is impossible, that the only hope is containment, but also restraint (like Clinton’s ten year relationship with Iraq).

    The single-state idea was floated respectfully in the NY Times

    I don’t have a clue what will occur, or even what should occur.

    Peres today stated that the currreny IDF was the most professional, most disciplined (including self-restrained) fighting force that he was aware of.

    Is it true? I don’t know. If so, then it seems that high officers and officials have questionable judgement.

    Hamas does NOT seem to be concerned with restraint, but they are clearly weakening militarily and seem more despondent than compromising.

    When they stated publicly that they regarded ANY Jewish target as fair game and for ANY action (not Israeli), they made compromise extremely unlikely.

  3. Joshua,

    People have been asking whether the Israeli left can be saved for as long as there has been an Israeli left. Even in Peace Now’s heyday after the 1st Lebanon War, Israelis would ask “Afo Shalom Achshav?” (“where is Peace Now?”0 or words to that effect. What is a bit different now, though. is that younger Israeli Jews are drawn in much greater numbers to the non-Zionist or post-Zionist or anti-Zionist left. The second question for me, after yours, is whether those two strands of the left can ever come together…

  4. Hamas has definitely taken major hits, most of it on the first strikes. It does look that they are inviting the IDF for a concrete-jungle battle that they want to last for months/years.

    The imposed ceasefire is in dire need.

  5. It’s a beautiful phrase, Dan, and would that it were, but Zionism has yet to transcend its violent, aggressive, colonial, expansionist phase, and so many of its victims are still living right next door.

    If you think Zionism can be re-branded in the eyes of those victims, that makes you one hell of an optimist, I guess.

    Sure, I guess there’s a possibility of a rabid ethnic nationalism (that is guilty of some of the worst crimes imaginable, yes) becoming benevolent. Trying to think of historical precedents…


  6. Jonathan,

    Since you are back, I’ll mention that I recently saw a National Geographic Map (the cover of the issue was on King Herod’s Tomb) that referred to the Arabic-speaking peoples (that’s plural with an s). So Modern Standard Arabic is a lingua franca between different peoples.

    So I guess when the Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini was in Bosnia recruiting Bosniaks for the Nazis he was being a pacificist moderate. That must be why Tito wanted him for war crimes after World War II.

  7. I was disappointed that Phil Weiss confirmed his outing as “anti-Zionist” by publishing as such in Huffington Post.

    Its not a question of semantics now. He’s officially shifted from seeking peace to political solidarity.

    Either/or is the message of the day.

    All stated very negatively.

  8. Richard, please explain how declaring oneself an anti-Zionist is a shift from seeking peace. I never saw a convincing argument about that.
    Re: Hamas, it just dawned on me: anybody willing to name the only force ever being able to stop Qassams from falling on Israel? Any guesses? Bingo, it’s Hamas, during the ceasefire (yeah, there were a couple of violations and Hamas did not punish the violators too seriously, but given that Israel has a pathetic record of punishing its radicals, it is hard for me somehow to get too angry at them for that… not to mention that there were violatins on Israel’s side too) So, if Israel were really interested in stopping the Qassams, the only reasonable solution that was proven to work would be to talk to Hamas and extend the ceasefire.
    Well, of course there is the alternative of re-conquering the Gaza Strip – something that, by the way, is not supported even by the majority of the gung-ho Israelis – but if that stops the Qassams, we know what it wouldn’t stop: regular guerrilla war against the IDF the way it was before or better. So, what’s the end game for Gaza from Israel’s point of view? A total chaos, Somalia-like? I wish I knew…

  9. “””So Modern Standard Arabic is a lingua franca between different peoples.”””

    I have a vague memory of a discussion about that, but I don’t know why I considered it important.

    My understanding is that the question of what constitutes a separate language is political and cultural. People may describe Urdu and Hindi as different languages, rather than two dialects of the same language. On the other hand, Quebecois and Parisian French are dialects.

    I guess that someone can consider Egyptian and Palestinian and Iraqi Arabic to be separate languages if they want.

  10. Zionism is the ideology that Jews have a right to assemble and self-govern, and in Israel particularly.

    To advocate against the right of a people to self-govern strikes me as a form of bigotry.

    It represents an abandonment of the intention to consider mutual needs, in favor of agitation in “solidarity” for the goals of a single side, in this case a side that threatens to murder at random any Jew anywhere.

    Your fantasy, of “talking to Hamas” to extend the cease-fire might have been relevant had Hamas refrained from shelling civilians, and instead issued its warning in the form of only shelling the desert intentionally, and overtly communicated to the world.

    It rejected that approach, and instead initiated shelling civilians. Anyone that has ever studied Israeli reaction would be certain that Israel’s reaction would be military, as occurred in Lebanon in 2006.

    It was cause and effect. The best then that you could say about Hamas is that they are violent children, not of age to be responsible for their own actions.

    I would hope that those that suggest that they should be leaders, elected and all, would also suggest that they exercise good judgement.

  11. Richard, it is one thing to say what Zionism is supposed to be and another what it turned into and here lies the difference b/w you and Phil. He says: I have no patience with castles in the sky, I can see a terrible situation now and it needs to be fixed, even at the price of throwing the baby out with the water, because it doesn’t look like it could be fixed any other way (60 years seems like a long time to try). So, you may disagree with that approach, but it doesn’t mean that Phil shifts from seeking peace, just that he sees his way as a more effective way of seeking peace.
    My “fantasy” of taking to Hamas was:
    a) proven to work in reaching the tahadiyeh
    b) shared by several former high-ranking IDF officers (and even to some extent by the head of Shin Bet Diskin) who claimed that Hamas is a pragmatic organization that needs to be dealt with politically.
    If Israel talked to Hamas in good faith and Hamas were shown to be the stubborn side, Israel would have scored a major PR victory. Israel chose not to talk to Hamas not because it is a fantasy, but for other reasons. You can try to bury your head in the sand as much as you like, but the facts speak otherwise.
    Finally, no amount of denial will help in controverting the fact that Hamas resumed the shelling only after the Nov 4 provocation and this shelling was in fact all aimed at the desert (why would they need to indicate they are deliberately shooting at the desert? I don’t see a lot of good reasons for them to do so explicitly.)
    I see the current Israeli leadership as the most violent children of all. At least they have a country and some sort of well running institutions for many years. To hold Hamas – a besieged, stateless actor – to the same standard is absurd, and yet the Israeli leadership manages to come out worse in comparison.

    P.S. Richard, do you think Israel in the end would talk to Hamas? If you say “no”, you haven’t learned from the past (cf. Second Lebanon Fiasco, for example). If you say “yes”, then the whole operation, with all the killing is pointless, QED

  12. Sorry, hit the wrong key. Dan is confused because there were at least 2 Israeli attacks on Gaza in November that prompted an immediate increase in rocket fire. The first one was on Nov. 5th and was, as you noted, purportedly to prevent another abduction. The second one was Nov. 15th (I believe) and that was purportedly a preventive attack because there was a new tunnel meant to smuggle arms. Arthur Wascow has a piece on this on the Shalom Center web site.

  13. Teddy, thanks (even though this is the wrong comments thread; the right one is here 🙂 )
    Couldn’t see the piece by Wascow you refer to right away (though saw one that referred to Gilad Shalit as “Gidon Shalit” several times, oh boy), do you have the link?

  14. I think its necessary to talk to Hamas. Its necessary for Hamas to talk to Israel.

    Where did you read that I thought differently?

    Its also necessary not to excuse shelling civilians as if its resistance even.

    Hamas shelled the desert for two days. I noted it as such. Others in Israel did as well. Israel had not yet violated the cease-fire any more materially than Hamas had at that point.

    On the third day, without ANY Israeli military action, Hamas returned to shelling civilians, and continued even though Israel publicly announced that continuing to shell civilians would lead to military action on its part.

    Hamas shelled civilians UNTIL Israel responded. They adopted the nihilist version of Gandhi’s prescription of “the purpose of active civil disobedience is to invoke a response from the the opponent”.

    Israel routinely talks to Hamas through Egypt.

    On the siege. I’ve been involved with community development activities over an extended period of time off and on, both in the US and internationally (nothing grand).

    In initiating (with others) a regional currency effort, we described prosperity in terms of inter-regional trade (import and export of goods and services, requiring civil relations with one’s neighbors) and intra-regional trade (trade within one’s region).

    EVERY community, every state, is dependant of convivial trade relationships to meet its needs. No community provides even a majority of goods and services intra-regionally. Some do much more than others, and do it well and egalitarian.

    Gaza is no different. If it borders only two states geographically, and physically assaults those two states, it is UNLIKELY that they will have favored trade relations with them, or even near them.

    If Gaza were a state, abiding by international agreements as far as use of international waters, then you could say that the blockade of Mediterranean trade would be illegal.

    The management of international border crossings between Gaza and Israel and Gaza and Egypt however is entirely discretionary on the states themselves, and needs to be.

  15. “”” it is one thing to say what Zionism is supposed to be and another what it turned into”””

    Once you speak of an idealized Zionism which you accept as legitimate (“supposed to be”) then you no longer oppose Zionism itself, which is the doctrine that the Jews are a nationality and entitled to establish a Jewish nation-state.

    Here’s a plug for an Israeli-American blogger who calls himself Magnes Zionist. He seems indistinguishable in his anti-Gaza-War invective from anti-Zionists, BUT he espouses a mild version of Zionism propounded by a man named Judah Magnes who died in the first months of Israel’s existence.

    He even immigrated from America to Israel long ago, although he is back now. He says that the land his Jerusalem house is on was originally owned by a Palestinian, but he cannot afford to turn his house over to that Palestinian’s descendants, wherever they are.

    There’s noble ideology, which is pure, and then there is the real world, which is compromised.

  16. Richard, you dismissed my “fantasy” of talking to Hamas just a couple of comments above, c’mon. In the end Israel will talk to Hamas, period (unless it destroys Gaza). So, maybe the current operation will achieve a certain detente b/w the two sides (even from the worst things there must come something good) but the price paid for that is absolutely unacceptable, and few supporters of the current operation realize that. Even ignoring the price in human life, it is the price of Israel’s humanity itself.

    Jonathan, you are not a careful reader. I was asking how defining oneself an anti-Zionist is to shift from seeking peace. No convincing argument has been given. Instead you engage in a different discussion about idealized Zionism vs. current state of affairs of Zionism. You might also check Phil’s posts on this to understand his position better. He thinks that while Zionism might have been a necessary movement in the past, currently it is more of a liability than asset, so to speak, which is why the world should abandon it. You can disagree with his position, that’s fine, but it doesn’t mean his shifted from seeking peace.
    I, by the way, don’t espouse nation-states a priori.
    I know the Magnes Zionist very well.

  17. Peter,

    Actually, I got the info on the two Israeli attacks from an email from the Shalom Center. I couldn’t find that link either but you can find the link to an Israeli report below.:


    We also have gathered FROM OFFICIAL ISRAELI SOURCES some information about the background of the bloodshed that is not widely available.

    Most of the American media have asserted that Hamas canceled the cease-fire. It is true that Hamas has been firing rockets at Israel, but this is not the whole story.

    Israeli Intelligence authorities, in a Web posting on November 16, reported that rocket firings from Gaza had been extremely few from June, when the ceasefire began, into November. In June, 5 rockets and 4 mortar shells; in July; 4 rockets and 8 mortar shells; in August, 8 rockets and 3 mortar shells; in September, 1 rocket and 3 mortar shells; in October, 2 rockets and 0 mortar shells. And these, the report concluded, were being fired not by Hamas but by small terrorist groups.

    Then, the report said, on November 4 Israel dropped bombs to stymie what the Israelis believed was an impending attempt to abduct some Israeli soldiers. The attack killed several Palestinians. Then and then only, according to Israeli Intelligence, Hamas sent rockets flying again into Israel .

    Then on November 15, a similar scenario. Israel “preventively” attacked what it thought was a new tunnel to smuggle arms into Gaza, killing several Palestinians in the process., Again, Hamas fired a flurry of rockets. After that, Israeli intelligence concluded that it was unlikely the precious “calm” or ceasefire could be restored.

    I repeat, this report was put on line by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC). Their title for it is ” Significant erosion of the lull arrangement in the Gaza Strip.”

    The report can be seen, including graphs of the drop and rise in rocket attacks, by clicking to –

    What to make of this information?

    • In terms of actual, physical violence, the first such major violence after the ceasefire began came from Israel. That violence, at first glance, broke the ceasefire.

    • But — could Israel have been expected to hold back if an abduction or a dangerous tunnel were really being planned? Was their estimate correct? If so, why was Hamas doing this after months of imposing deep calm?

    • When the Israeli Army did attack, could Hamas have responded in another way — for example, supporting a huge expansion of the nonviolent “ship-ins” that were breaking the Israeli embargo and bringing foods and medicines to Gaza by small boats? If so, why did they not choose to do that?

    • Did the Israeli government discuss whether to renew the ceasefire on the Israeli side by halting attacks they claimed to be “preventive,” and seeking renewal of the cease-fire by Hamas? What was the effect of the oncoming election on the Israeli government’s assessments?
    Meanwhile, 500 residents of Sderot, have joined with Gaza residents to call for renewal of the truce. A total of 1,800 Israelis and Palestinians have signed a petition calling for an end to the IDF operation in Gaza and renewal of dialogue between Israel and Hamas. See the full story at —,7340,L-3646184,00.html

  18. After the first incident, each side indicated by their actions (lull) that they intended the cease-fire to remain in effect.

    The November 15 incident followed shelling by Islamic Jihad, and allowed by Hamas, when they reasoned to allow the cease-fire to lapse.

    During the first couple days, Hamas shelled only the desert, which fire was NOT returned by Israel.

    Nearly immediately following the end of the official cease-fire, Hamas began shelling Israeli civilian towns, again without immediate return fire from Israel, just verbal warnings.

    They ignored those warnings.

  19. Listen, Jonathan Mark, you have an annoying habit of taking specific phrases out of context and starting an argument that has no merit except for displaying your admirable sophistic abilities. I was pointing out what Phil meant (in my interpretation, of course, and a pithy form) by using the term anti-Zionist. You caught on a phrase without understanding what the argument was about in order to pontificate on idealized Zionism and chairs. And in the end – all for nothing, because even while you want us to accept the idea that the fault with the current state of affairs lies not with the Platonic “idea of Zionism”, but with the specific realization whereof, you actually reject the very premise of our assertion that there is something bad with the current realization of Zionism. What a waste of breath.

  20. Sorry I went over your head with the Platonic forms reference, Peter D. I will try to keep things on a simpler level that you can appreciate.

    You started your message with the words:
    “””Richard, it is one thing to say what Zionism is supposed to be and another what it turned into”””

    Now this statement of yours is at the very start of your message. There is simply no context contained in your message for me to leave out. I have included everything which you stated prior to it.

    And what is the meaning of your words. Simply that Zionism “is supposed to be” something. But it has “turned into” something else.

    One can find your statement to be either meaningful or not meaningful. If you don’t want people to interpret your statement as valid or invalid then don’t start your message with it.

  21. I didn’t read all of that, although I bet it must be amusing, there are just too many time constraints.

    Richard, there have been reports that Israel “duped” Hamas, if you could even call it that when you’re at odds with a faction, into thinking it would feign at renewing a ceasefire. I read that Egypt also helped with the subterfuge, trying to engage Hamas with to renew the ceasefire all the while knowing of Israel’s plans to pummel the Gaza Strip. Israel is definitely the main culprit (in my opinion) for its blitz but I have even more contempt for Egypt (or Mubarak or whichever is the head honcho for all of this).

    It cannot be ignored that this operation was planned well in advance and is the pet project of Ehud Barak. The rocket barrage seem to have provided the perfect pretext, especially since rockets have been consistent for many years now. You could make the case that this was going to happen sooner or later but the timing seems too coincidental for my liking.

    A new story has Ehud Olmert embarrassing Rice when he personally phoned Bush for the US to abstain on the UN ceasefire. It seems that he has not had quite enough.

  22. “””Israel is definitely the main culprit (in my opinion) for its blitz but I have even more contempt for Egypt”””

    What about Hamas and its blitz of Sderot and Ashkelon? Don’t you have just a tiny, eetsy-beetsy little bit of contempt for Hamas, shorty?

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