The response after Israeli Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon called Peace Now a “virus” has been energizing.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Ya’alon’s comments were “not acceptable, not in their content and not in their style, and they do not represent the government’s position.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said “Peace Now is an important part of the peace camp and an integral part of the democratic dialogue in Israeli society.”
And Haaretz columnist Yossi Verter asked “What dybbuk has suddenly taken possession of Moshe Ya’alon?”
Despite the widespread revulsion to Ya’alon’s comments, a stream of settler leaders and their sympathizers continue to incite against Peace Now: National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau on Sunday stated that “Ya’alon said correct things” about Peace Now. Moshe Feiglin told Israel Radio that “calling Peace Now a virus is an insult to viruses.” The Settlers’ Council said that Peace Now activists “are not a virus, they are traitors.”
The degree of animosity towards Peace Now among this radical sector of the Israeli public is disturbing, but it is also indicative of Peace Now’s impact. Only Peace Now has the resources, the expertise, and the credibility to expose settler schemes. It is Peace Now — time and again — that effectively makes the case that settlements undermine Israel’s prospects for peace.
A [recent] Peace Now report revealed that construction began on 600 new buildings in the settlements in the first six months of 2009. Moreover, Peace Now made public that 40,000 new buildings are already authorized for construction.
(The author is director of strategic communications for Americans for Peace Now.)