The Delegitimization of Peace Advocates in Israeli Society

By: Gilead Sher, Naomi Sternberg, Mor Ben-Kalifa

Delegitimization of groups and individuals who are part of Israel’s peace camp takes place on a daily basis. Those who are delegitimized are civil society and human rights organizations, politicians, public figures, or individuals who support an agreed-upon, long term political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The discourse on peace in Israeli society seems to have reached a stalemate, where the hope for change and for an Israeli-Palestinian co-existence initiative no longer has any place on the public agenda. Israel’s Declaration of Independence states that Israel is to be “based on freedom, justice and peace” and will extend its hand “to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness.” Despite this, delegitimization of peace camp advocates has increased in Israel, and reached the level of demonization. Like a mirror image of Palestinian society, Israeli society has shifted rightward; a radicalization of positions has led to a rejection of the legitimacy not only of moderate opinions that are identified with the political left wing, but also of those who hold these opinions. This essay examines the delegitimization of peace camp advocates, including the monopolistic appropriation of patriotism in Israel, socio-psychological obstacles to peace, and the role of the media and social networks. It proposes a multi-faceted approach to eradication of the phenomenon, while understanding the inherent difficulty of mobilizing a right wing government for this purpose. The proposal will therefore be based mainly on work that can be done by different civil society organizations.


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