From where we sit as longtime activists in Israel's struggle to define who she is, this past summer was an astonishing time. What began as a protest over the price of cottage cheese grew into mass demonstrations across Israel against the rising cost of living and our increasingly inadequate social welfare system.
The hundreds of thousands of young Israelis who took to the streets and lived in tents to demand a better future for their country shared a deep discontent with our leaders' ineptness and their dismal stewardship of the common good.
As leaders of Shalom Achshav, Israel's Peace Now movement, we take hope from the unprecedented success of the "Israeli Summer's" socio-economic protests. We draw tremendous inspiration from the energy and power demonstrated by those motivated Israelis who demanded change for the country they love.
That's the template that Peace Now has always worked from-change for the country we love. Peace Now is the rational voice calling for change that will bring us a negotiated peace settlement with the Palestinians. We advocate a two-state solution-Israel and Palestine-because it is Israel's best hope to remain a Jewish state and a democracy. We insist on security guarantees for Israel, because no Israeli would leave the country's future to chance.
Peace Now was demonstrating for change in Israel long before the summer's protests and tent cities went up in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. And now that the summer season is over and the tents (that we hope to see again soon) are gone, Peace Now is still here. And we will remain-until our country achieves peace.
The fact is, the socio-economic woes that the "Israeli Summer" protestors brought to world attention are partly a symptom of the Netanyahu government's failure to lead us toward peace. Peace Now bears witness to just how absurd it is for the government to spend billions of dollars constructing settlements on land that will ultimately have to be evacuated to make room for a Palestinian state. Prime Minister Netanyahu has agreed that a Palestinian state is necessary for peace, and yet settlement construction continues, as if it were our country's unacknowledged addiction.
Although many Israelis might avert their eyes and change the subject, Peace Now devotes time and resources to chronicling Israel's settlement addiction. Peace Now's Settlements Watch project records and publishes information on the settlements that is so accurate that diplomats, journalists, researchers-and even Israeli government officials-rely on it.That makes Peace Now the enemy in the settlers' eyes
So they include us in their Price Tag campaign. Price Tag is the name young militant Israeli settlers in the West Bank gave to their violent acts to deter Israeli law-enforcement authorities from removing illegally built structures from West Bank settlements and illegal outposts.
Using the reasoning that if these illegal buildings were going to be demolished, someone on the other side would have to pay the price, the settlers have attacked Palestinians and their property, torched mosques, and violently confronted Israeli military and police officers.
Recently the price tag offensive crossed into Israel proper. During the high holidays, a mosque in Tuba Zangariya, a Beduin village in the Galilee, many of whose residents serve in the Israeli military, was burned down. Nearby, investigators found the words, "Price Tag." Israel's internal security minister called it "an act of terrorism."
In mid-September, graffiti was spray painted on the home of Peace Now's Hagit Ofran. Among the messages: "Price Tag" and "Peace Now-The End is Near."
And in early September, a 19-year-old soldier was arrested for placing phone calls to Peace Now's head, Yariv Oppenheimer, threatening to murder him.
Our opponents have a very different vision of Israel's future than we do. To realize their dream of Greater Israel, they are willing to sacrifice the Jewish and democratic character of our country.
But despite our opponents' efforts, there still is hope for a viable two-state solution. And that hope-to a large extent-is due to Peace Now.
Israel needs Peace Now's continued leadership to pressure the government to return to direct negotiations with the Palestinians now. It needs Peace Now's conscientious leadership to point out the injustices of the occupation today. It needs Peace Now's agitation for Israelis to understand that time is running out on the two-state solution. It needs Peace Now to remind us all that our growing international isolation is a direct result of our leaders' failure to end our occupation of the Palestinians.
In the United States, Americans for Peace Now (APN), the sister organization of Israel's Peace Now, educates American friends of Israel about the importance of Middle East peace, not only for Israelis but for Americans as well.
APN works to educate American policy makers and to focus the debate in America's Jewish community on the importance of peace for Israel.APN provides nearly half of the funding for Israel's Peace Now movement, and helps make possible the action, research and legal advocacy that assist peace-seeking Israelis in taking back the middle ground.
APN offers a wealth of resources to educate the next generation of Americans who care about Israel. Visit APN's web site. Read about the Arab Spring and the Israeli Summer and how they impact peace efforts. Read the analyses of Israeli security expert Yossi Alpher. Review APN's weekly reports on congressional Mideast action. Follow APN on Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for Peace Now's updates and action alerts.
APN is your home if you're looking for hope based on a rational and moderate view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
As the year 2011 ends, we ask you to make a tax-deductible contribution to Americans for Peace Now. By doing so, you will join the peace effort and assist those in Israel who believe in the two-state solution, in peace, reconciliation, tolerance and democracy, and who are willing to fight for it.
By joining Americans for Peace Now, you will be sending a pro-peace message to Washington and to Jerusalem.
By supporting APN, you will take part in the fight over Israel's future, over Israel's soul.
BOTH BORN IN JERUSALEM, AMOS OZ AND DAVID GROSSMAN ARE WORLD-RENOWNED AUTHORS AND LEADING ISRAELI PEACE ADVOCATES.Amos Oz has been politically active since the late 1960s when he handed out pamphlets that called for peace with Israel's Arab neighbors, triggering accusations of treason. His fiction and non-fiction range from the lyrical to the political. His 2005 monumental memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness, had a major impact on Israeli society and won him international praise and prizes. Oz has received numerous awards, including the Israel Prize for literature.
David Grossman's works of fiction, non-fiction and children's literature have been translated into thirty languages and have received widespread international praise. Perhaps his most lauded book is his most recent, the novel To The End of The Land, a powerful meditation on war, friendship, and family. The book, which focuses on an Israeli mother's concern for the life of her soldier son in battle, was completed by Grossman after the personal tragedy of losing his own son in the Lebanon War of 2006.