In the lead-up to this year’s Passover holiday, Americans for Peace Now launched a Facebook meme campaign inspired by the words of Peace Now co-founder Galia Golan. We asked that Jews who care about Israel spill some wine in acknowledgement of Israel’s “modern-day plagues”, as is traditionally done during the Seder when reading the ten plagues of Egypt.
The first modern-day plague, “continued settlement building,” was chosen because of the degree to which Israeli settlement expansion damages prospects for peace. The growth of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem threatens to eliminate the possibility of a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians – the only solution that can secure Israel’s future as a democracy and a Jewish state.
It is not surprising that the same settlers and their supporters who seek to prevent a two-state solution were angered by our campaign. What is surprising was the amount of vitriol, threatening phone calls, name-calling, and outright lies that were publicly lobbed at APN.
On Facebook, hateful, profanity-filled comments streamed in for days. “Nazis,” “kapos,” “self-loathing Jews,” “traitors,” “dirty leftists,” “fifth columnists” – these are only a few examples. On Twitter, settler leader Dani Dayan accused APN of spreading hate, and called us the “wicked son of the Haggadah.” Ari Soffer, Editor of the settler news outlet Arutz Sheva, called our actions a “dehumanization campaign” and claimed that we were calling the settlers themselves “a plague.” Another prominent settler leader, David Haivri, called APN "a pathetic bunch of hate-mongers.”
The falsehoods and misrepresentation didn’t stop there. Here in the U.S., Mort Klein, of the once-storied Zionist Organization of America, accused APN of racism and said that we “should be marginalized by the Jewish community as an extremist group of self-hating and frightened Jews."
Of course, APN never referred to settlers themselves as a "plague", only to the Israeli government's policy of expanding settlements. The extremists who misrepresent our position do so in order to deflect attention from the very real obstacle that settlement expansion poses to establishing peace for Israel. They hope to distract from the very real suffering that settlement growth causes for those Israelis and Palestinians who long for a peaceful future and an end to occupation.
Our policy views are in virtual lock-step with many of those responsible for maintaining Israel’s security. Was Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin a frightened Jew, Mr. Klein? Are former and present Shin-Bet and Mossad officials who state the lack of a negotiated Palestinian state is one of the largest threats to Israel a pathetic bunch of hate-mongers?
You can help us fight back against the distortions. Help us take on the extremist settlers and their supporters. Help us support the work of our sister organization in Israel, Shalom Achshav, in monitoring and working against settlement growth in the West Bank. Remember that Shalom Achshav was originally founded by IDF reserve officers. Patriots and Zionists.
Join us in working for a peaceful, secure, democratic, Jewish state of Israel. Your support and encouragement is inspirational. We can debate these issues rationally and without making threatening calls. Help us with a tax-deductible contribution — because it is not about Right vs. Left, but about Right vs. Wrong.