Last Friday, Peace Now hosted its annual Conference of the Israeli Progressive Peace Camp. The evening before the conference, my team and I were very concerned. The forecast predicted the worst storm in a century, and we were afraid not many people would brave the weather and attend. However, by 8:30 the next morning, hundreds of people had already arrived, surpassing even our most optimistic estimates. The large auditorium quickly filled, and we had to argue with the ushers to get more people inside the room. Despite the weather, we happily welcomed over 700 people and 70 speakers who had awakened early to travel through snow, rain and cold, to take their place with the peace camp.
As I watched the people flock to sign in and get their name tags, I said to myself that I should not be surprised by their determination to brave the storm. These activists have supported peace through the most challenging times and have never given up. I left the conference reassured that my colleagues are as determined as I am to never give up the struggle for peace.
The conference hosted speakers from the full spectrum of the Israeli peace and social justice movement. Who else could have gathered for one purpose everyone from the heads of major political parties (from Zahava Galon of Meretz to "Bouji" Herzog, Stav Shafir and Merav Michaeli of Labor, Amram Mitzna of Hatnu'ah and Muhammad Barakeh of Hadash -- and more) to young activists turning out for the first time for peace efforts? Peace Now. When I spoke, I shared my belief that Peace Now's activism and our Settlement Watch team are the real gatekeepers of the two-state solution. We believe that the many domestic problems that Israel faces today will be eased when we solve our conflict with the Palestinians.
As I stood on the stage in front of an overly full auditorium, looking at the faces of the many young people who filled the room, I was reassured that we have a big and energized movement behind us -- not only here in Israel but also overseas.
Indeed, it is because of your ongoing commitment and belief in our work, that Peace Now is the big tent, the convener of Israel's progressive forces.
With your help, we will continue to lead Israel's peace movement and push the Israeli public to rally around a two-state Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
As we usher in a year that will further challenge the peace movement, I urge you to support us by sending your tax-deductible contribution to Americans for Peace Now, and by doing so, empower the peace-seeking Israeli public.
P.S. Take a look at this terrific video featuring highlights from the conference.