- I have so much great material in my notebooks from my recent trip! Now, I’m going to start presenting some of the highlights from the interviews I did with various Israeli figures, mainly in the peace movement. These are, of course, in addition to the interview I did with Likud strategic thinker Efraim Inbar, which I already published here, and some highlights from the interview with Benjamin Pogrund, as published here. I have more from Pogrund that i might use sometime, too. he’s a fascinating representative of a fairly influential brand of “Left” Zionism.
Golan is a long-time Jewish-Israeli activist for peace and human rights who
runs a human-rights program in the law school of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
We met in late February in the university’s Ramat Gan
campus. She spoke very poignantly about how isolated she and other Israeli
peace activists had felt during the Gaza war.
Even during the war there were only
twenty people or so taking part in the weekly Women in Black antiwar protests.
There was one antiwar demonstration in Tel Aviv with about 20,000 people in it.
But most pathetic of all was an action that Peace Now organized here in
Jerusalem: There were fewer than twenty people taking part.
Honestly, the war was the worst
time for us, we were feeling so isolated. But it seemed so obvious to us that
the war would not “achieve” anything except spread more misery and anger.
… During the war, of course,
Israelis weren’t shown anything about what was happening inside Gaza. We don’t
even have CNN on our cable offerings here. Mostly, what we
shown on our t.v. was
lots of ex-generals giving their ‘analysis’ of events. But it was meaningless
technical gobbledygook: ‘Bank of targets’—what is that supposed to mean?
Later, as we walked out the campus’s main gate, she pointed
to a fence where, she said, during the war some rightwing students had hung
some very racist posters urging the killing of all the Gazans.
She recalled that she started tearing the posters down,
whereupon some of the defenders of the posters came and surrounded her and
started threatening her. She called the security guards from their nearby booth
and they came and escorted her to safety. But when she then protested the
hanging of the posters to the university authorities she felt she got no
satisfactory response from them at all.
During the interview she talked about the strong effect the buiding of the Wall had had on relations between Israelis
and their Palestinian neighbors in the West Bank:
The politics of separation that the
Wall represents has been generally successful. We don’t go there and they don’t
come here. It makes it much easier for politicians here to demonize all
One way that she and some of her friends have been using, to
reduce the separation the Wall has caused, has been to support the small-scale
“veggie coops” which have Israelis going into West Bank villages to buy organic
fair-trade produce there and then distribute it among co-op members inside
Golan talked about the sorry state of the Israeli left in
What is ‘the left’ here, anyway? Labour is not left. And Meretz?
They supported the war. Hadash [Israel’s longtime Communist party] is the most
interesting party on the left, and they have one of the most interesting
upcoming political personalities: Dov Khenin. He’s an anti-Zionist. When he ran for mayor of
Tel Aviv last autumn he got one-third of the vote—and Hadash
won more seats there than Meretz did.
People are tired of Meretz. They are seen as old-fashioned and tied far too
closely to the old kibbutz system.
It’s true Hadash is still mainly a party of Israeli Arabs, but
they’ve doubled the number of Jews who voted for them. But they have a major
problem in that they don’t have any women near the top of their list, so how
can they present themselves as a party of the left?
She described Labour leader Ehud
Barak as “one of the most dangerous people.” She, like many other members of
the Israeli peace camp, heaped particular scorn on him for the declaration he
made in early 2001 that he had made a “generous” peace offer to Yasser Arafat
and that Arafat had capriciously turned it down. Therefore, Barak said
frequently at that time and since, that proves that Israel “has no partner for
peace.” The fact that Barak had been prime minister at the time—and one
elected 18 months earlier on an explicitly pro-peace platform—gave his
diatribe against Arafat considerable weight.
More recently, of course, Barak was the defense minister who
masterminded the whole Gaza war. And more recently still, he has announced he
will go into the upcoming Likud-led government.