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Stuck in the '90s: Israel’s peace camp is losing public interest

After weeks of rocket fire, the Israeli public, including many in the left, feel that the peace camp has no adequate proposals and can offer no updated paradigm for a diplomatic solution.
A man holds up a flag during a peace rally in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square August 16, 2014. The protesters were demonstrating in favour of a peaceful political agreement, to end the month-long conflict in Gaza, between the Israeli and Palestinian governments. 
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At the end of the demonstration by left-wing groups at Rabin Square on the night of Aug. 16, the general director of nongovernmental organization Peace Now released a brief announcement to the news media. In it, he said that he and his colleagues were surprised and encouraged by the large number of demonstrators and that, “Tonight the left proved that ‘the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread’ [Exodus 1:12].” But in his statement, Director-General Yariv Oppenheimer sounded as if he were trying to encourage himself most of all. At best, there were no more than 7,000 people at the demonstration protesting Operation Protective Edge, under the banner of “changing direction toward Peace.”

Oppenheimer heads the movement that organized the “Demonstration of the 400,000” just 32 years ago, after the massacre in Sabra and Shatila, during the First Lebanon War. He should be worried about the continued dwindling of the peace camp, and how it is getting further and further away from the Israeli mainstream. Speakers at the 1982 demonstration included key figures from the Labor Party, which was then in the opposition, among them Yitzhak Rabin (prime minister when he was later assassinated) and Shimon Peres (president until last month). The current chairman of the Labor Party, Knesset member Isaac Herzog, was nowhere to be found at the Aug. 16 demonstration, nor were other senior members of the party.

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