Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Peace Now (in Hebrew, שלום עכשיו - "Shalom Achshav") is an extra-parliamental political movement in Israel, with the agenda of "swaying popular opinion and convincing the Israeli government of the need and possibility for achieving a just peace and an historic conciliation with the Palestinian people and neighboring Arab countries; this in exchange for a territorial settlement based on the formula of 'land for peace'" (translated from the Peace Now website).
Following Anwar Sadat's visit to Israel in 1978, 348 Israeli military reserves officers petitioned Israel's prime minister, Menachem Begin, urging him to continue with the drive for peace. This petition lead to the creation of Peace Now, a grassroots movement dedicated to raising public support for the peace process.
At a rally held in Tel-Aviv's Kikar Malkhei Israel (later renamed Kikar Rabin after Yitzhak Rabin), demonstrators called on prime minister Begin to make peace with Egypt, in exchange for the return of the Sinai peninsula.
In the years 1982-1984 the movement acted in protest of the Lebanon war, and called for the retreat of Israeli forces from Lebanon. The height of this activity was a massive rally following the massacre in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila.
On February 10, 1983, at a Peace Now demonstration in Jerusalem, a right-wing militant named Yonah Avrushmi tossed a hand-grenade at demonstrators, killing Peace Now activist Emil Grunzweig and injuring several others.
Throughout the years of its activity Peace Now has opposed Israeli settlement in the West Bank, which it perceives as being calculated to undermine the possibility of peace with the Palestinians.
During the 1980s and early 1990s Peace Now called for recognition of the PLO as the National representative of the Palestinian people. The first Intifada (1987-1993) was perceived by Peace Now as a political act, therefore the movement called for negotiations to be held with the Palestinians, aimed at putting an end to what the movement perceives as forced occupation of the West Bank (also known as Judea and Samaria) and Gaza.
The signing of the Oslo accords marked a milestone in the activity of Peace Now, which has since strived to support governments that acted according to the "land for peace" formula, and demonstrate against governments that held down the peace process.
With the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada (2000 to present), support for the movement has waned, in light of what seems from a present perspective as the collapse of the peace process set into motion at Oslo.
In 2003, new initiatives aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were set into motion, such as the National Census and the Geneva Initiative, both of which are also based on the "land for peace" formula. Neither initiative is officially affiliated to Peace Now, though many of same players have been involved in the various peace initiatives. The Geneva Accord is identified with Yossi Beilin and the Yachad party; the National Census is identified with Ami Ayalon, who has deliberately kept this initiative separate from Peace Now in order not to damage support from the general public.
Peace Now's main activities for 2004 are monitoring Israeli settlement expansions and the establishment of illegal outposts by the Hilltop Youth. Peace Now was one of the main organisers of the Mate ha-Rov ("majority camp") demonstration in 2004, in support of Israel's unilateral disengagement plan of 2004 and withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
The movement has been criticized for lacking realism given the absence of a corresponding movement on the Arab side of the conflict.
Ami Ayalon, former head of the Shin Bet and co-initiator of the National Census peace proposal (with professor Sari Nusseibeh), has criticized Peace Now for demonizing the Jewish settlers, 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 explain that this because Peace Now and the left wing have shown alienation 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.
(part of the speech in Hebrew can be found here: http://news.walla.co.il/?w=//543668 )
- Peace Now (Hebrew) English
- Americans for Peace Now
- A Song for Peace (Hebrew and English translation)
- Mate ha-Rov demonstration
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