Forward Thinking

Peace Now Video Advances Mockery, Not Peace

By Mira Sucharov

  • Print
  • Share Share

A new plea for Israelis to push toward an agreement with the Palestinians has been launched in the form of a Purim video sponsored by the Israeli group Peace Now. Called “It’s fun to be a rightist” and set to the song “Got my mind set on you,” the video is an unsubtle sendup of the settlers and their Knesset backers.

With the Israeli peace group already marginalized in mainstream Israeli affairs, deciding to openly mock their opposition is a risky strategy. Looking closer, though, it’s a message that may serve to skewer the whole nature of domestic ideological clashes in a conflict zone.

The video opens with Yossi Belin — now visibly older than he appeared during the height of his peace process involvement in the early 1990s — getting dressed up as a West Bank settler for a television spot. With an army-issue parka, wearing socks and sandals and a knitted kippah, Beilin-as-settler exclaims, “Isn’t it fun for me that there’s no partner, and that the Arabs understand only force and bombs! Because otherwise, what would I have to scare you with? Monsters?”

“It’s fun, convenient and comfortable to be racist and destructive. It’s fun to be a rightist. So what if it’s inflammatory and beyond the realm of reason?” the jingle continues.

The “rightists” are spoofed with phrases such as, “You built our new highways, and gave up on an apartment so I can sit here [in my balcony in the West Bank]. Nice, isn’t it?” And “if you dare speak of peace, we will legislate against free thought.”

The segment concludes with Avram Burg, former Knesset speaker and an outspoken proponent of peace, removing his judge’s wig (having impersonated the Supreme Court president Asher Grunis, widely regarded as supporting settler aims) and placing his own trademark kippah back on his head after musing, “Isn’t it great that we have democracy, justice and law? Even if it all ends at the Green Line.” Several current Labor and Meretz MKs appear as well. After railing against the anti-left epithets of the right (“traitor” and “anti-Semite” are two), the group of past and present MKs and Peace Now activists wishes viewers Happy Purim!

Will the video achieve what Peace Now hopes it will? There are a couple of angles we need to consider.

However light and entertaining on its face, the initiative is clearly a rearguard action against a feeling of being hemmed in by an Israeli public whose apparent willingness to abide by the status quo only bolsters the agenda of the Israeli right. There is of course bitter irony here. While the messages of the pro-peace left are not quite reflected at the polls (roughly one-third of the current Knesset seats could be considered pro-two-state solution) the message of Peace Now is actually well within the Israeli consensus on the Israeli-Palestinian endgame — never mind the aims of U.S. foreign policy and the stance of the international community. A solid majority of Israelis still supports the two-state solution.

Where the video falls short, though, is in examining a deeper and more complex message of Purim that I try to take to heart: the idea that the superficial inversions that we attempt in the form of costumes (and tippling) may be an opportunity for a deeper awareness of other aspects that reside inside of us — often motivations or characteristics that are cloaked in fear.

In dressing up as the right wing and simply mocking it, Peace Now isn’t sufficiently allowing itself to really try on a different identity. While it’s true that the settlements enjoy government subsidies even as housing prices soar within the Green Line; and while the echoes of traitor language ring loud in the collective memory of a country scarred by their prime minister’s assassination; and while policies built on fearmongering do not a healthy country make, we need to remember that the left-right policy debate in Israel is deep and raw.

To prime Israelis for the reality of a two-state settlement, the left-right division will need to be healed and the stakes for the losers will need to be acknowledged with care.

Until then, another Purim holiday will come and go in Israel and across the Jewish world, with celebrants trying on other personas and other ideas. Perhaps now is the time to think about how those other personas really operate. It may not be as fun as it feels to sing about “being a rightist” for three-and-a-half musical minutes, but it may be a necessary, internal step to Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution.

Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yossi Beilin, Peace Now, Palestinian, Israel

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels.
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.