by Khaled Abu Toameh
Has anyone ever heard of an Arab or Palestinian "Peace Now" group? Palestinians have been radicalized to a point where it is virtually impossible to talk about peace and coexistence. Peace activists, human rights advocates, moderates, journalists and reformers have almost no say and are often denounced as "traitors" and a "fifth column."
In Israel, there are dozens of organizations and parties that openly advocate peace with the Palestinians and the Arab world.
Some even go as far as calling on the Israeli government to comply with 100% of the Palestinians' demands by fully withdrawing to the pre-1967 lines.
Many of these organizations and parties have also been active in launching protests against Israel's actions in the Palestinian territories, especially the construction of the security barrier and new houses in settlements.
Israeli human rights groups and other organizations are usually the first to condemn the Israel Defense Forces or the government when something with the Palestinians goes wrong. Some Israelis have decided to expand their protest by participating in Palestinian street demonstrations against the Israeli Defense Forces in the West Bank or the Police in east Jerusalem.
The Israeli media is also full of articles -- by Jewish writers -- who are extremely critical of the Israeli establishment and who openly back Palestinian demands for statehood and independence. Hence it is no surprise that Palestinian media newspapers devote entire pages to publish translated [pro-Palestinian] articles and news stories that originally appeared in the Israeli media.
Some Israeli politicians, especially Arab Knesset members, have used the parliamentary podium to advance and defend the causes of Palestinians. Israeli policies and actions are condemned in the Knesset more than they are denounced in the Palestinian or any Arab parliament. The Palestinian parliament, incidentally, has been paralyzed since 2007 because of the dispute between Hamas and Fatah.
In most parliaments throughout the Arab world, representatives do not enjoy the same freedom of speech as their counterparts in Israel. Members of parliament in the Arab world can not stand up and openly demand peace with Israel. When was the last time an Arab parliament or prominent politician or columnist called for peace and compromise with Israel?
Can anyone in the Palestinian territories or the Arab world form a party that advocates peace, coexistence and harmony with Israel? On the contrary, the only voices that are being heard among Palestinians and other Arabs are those who seek to boycott and delegitimize Israel.
Any Palestinian or Arab who dares to talk to Israelis or visit Israel is accused of being a traitor for promoting "normalization" with the "Zionist enemy."
In Israel, hundreds of thousands of people once took to the streets to protest against the Israeli war in Lebanon and the killing of innocent civilians in refugee camps. The mass protest resulted in the resignation of then Defense Minister Ariel Sharon.
During the last war in the Gaza Strip, more protests took place inside Israel than inside most Arab capitals or in the West Bank -- where the Palestinians worked hard to suppress protests.
In Israel, there is a large movement called Peace Now that effectively endorses most of the Palestinians' demands. Has anyone ever heard of a Palestinian or Arab "Peace Now" group?
Over the past two decades, Israeli Jews have been marching toward pragmatism and moderation. A majority now supports the two-state solution and, according to public opinion polls, is even willing to make compromises on settlements and Jerusalem, By contrast, the Palestinians seem to be marching backward.
The Palestinians have been radicalized to a point where it is almost impossible to talk about peace and coexistence with Israel. For Palestinians, the true heroes are suicide bombers who blew themselves up in cafes and buses, killing innocent civilians. Peace activists, human rights advocates, moderates, journalists and reformers have almost no say and are often denounced as "traitors" and a "fifth column."Khaled Abu Toameh
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